The Prague Summer Theatre School

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Unveiling the Performer: An Introduction to Making and Performing with Masks

This introductory course offers the unique experience of mask improvisation as a tool in actor training while also offering the complete experience of the mask-making process. In this way, students will explore mask in its fullness - from the inside leading out. At the end of this course, students will use this intensive experience as a foundation to devise and develop their own piece of masked performance using the masks they have designed and made.

Acting in mask represents the basic premise of acting - the comprehensive inhabitation of an “other.” The mask has also been recognized as an invaluable and indispensable tool in actor’s training. Jacques Lecoq pioneered the use of neutral and larval masks to encourage and promote what he saw as the essential skills of actor’s craft - playfulness, togetherness, and openness. The mask has thus become an organic part of actor training, a tool used to develop performers who are willing to cultivate their imaginations, minds, bodies and emotions to become better equipped at embodying the psychological needs of characters they portray. It has become an essential tool for the performer as it allows the freedom to dare to be someone else, and at the same time to be more yourself.

By creating a mask and performing with it in this course, students will learn the fundamental rules that govern mask performance and gain first-hand experience of what makes a mask such a simple yet powerful tool rich in emotion, narrative, metaphor, and symbolism. Just as the actor in masked performance departs form a blank screen on which the audience may project emotions suggested to them, so does the mask maker start from a scratch learning the basic rules of mask creation while exploring the substance through which the essence of a mask gets revealed.

This deep understanding of what constitutes a mask will be further developed in improvisational exercises with various types of masks. Students will work extensively with neutral, larval, and character masks. Each mask will form the basis for a new area of exploration, as each type of mask will evoke different responses, teach new concepts and techniques, and challenge the students in new ways.

Schedule

June 3rd to June 21st 2013. Three teaching hours every weekday afternoon. Students in this course may also enroll in take Enlivening the Performer.

Teacher

Pavel Bednář, MFA, is a Prague based mask-maker, drama teacher and instructor. He received his MFA from the Department of Drama in Education at DAMU. He trained in England with Mike Chase, a leading mask maker, actor, and director in the field, where he gained experience in making and using masks for performance and personal development. He also trained and performed in Commedia dell’arte with Olly Crick. He is now exploring the use of masks in corporate drama, pioneering the use of drama conventions in the field of corporate training and executive coaching.