Actor Approach

Your acting skills will improve step by step. Know that these steps will be uneven. Sometimes you'll leap. Sometimes you'll hop. Regardless of your progress, bring to each step an open mind. Maintain a high level of integrity. Drop any preconceptions you may have about masking. Don't worry about what will happen next. Trust the masks and yourself. Enjoy yourself. Mask acting should never feel like a chore. It's a pleasure to discover the unique attributes of a...

Advanced Exercises Group Masking

You have now acquired core full-face masking techniques finding triggers, transforming physically, vocally, and emotionally, engaging in activities, working in and out of masks, and modifying results. Advanced techniques are based on interactive explorations. Most Hu-Masks are eager to play with other Hu-Masks. A few prefer to live in the corners of the studio, protecting their solitude. These reclusive Hu-Masks will need a bit of encouragement to emerge from their shells. It is well worth the...

Allpowerful Masks

Masks are simple objects that cover your face. Yet they are capable of instigating transformative experiences. This is why so many actors, teachers, and directors including Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Brecht, Grotowski, and Artaud speak of masks as all-powerful objects. It is worth remembering that masks are not innately powerful. We imbue them with power in order to reap the benefits of transformative action. This is a convenient construct and it works. The truth is that you are the medium through...

Alternate Essences

A clown that freely shifts from one essence to another is exhilarating. Swinging between extremes fosters actor flexibility and range. Shifts must be precise. Precision requires focus, determination, and practice. This initiates exploration of opposite aspects of your clown personality. Shifts are spurred by side coaching. Listen to your coach and follow directions. 2. Follow side-coaching directions Hey clown Show us your sad clown. What do you do that is sad (Pause.) Happy. What do you do...

Audience

The audience is comprised of fellow actors and coaches who are watching your clown routine. They are a necessary component of the work without them you cannot share discoveries. When you are clowning, it may seem as though you are on stage, even though you are in the studio fulfilling a simple exercise. Each exercise offers an opportunity to confront and handle performance pressure. When you are watching a clown, pay close attention to each evolving moment. Watchers learn as much as performers....

Building A Crowd

The actor who has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand is like the virtuoso violinist who no longer has to watch his fingers as he plays, nor even keep an eye on the bow. He feels the notes as they leave the violin, and listens to them as they float back. Dario Fo, The Tricks of the Trade Upon their arrival in a new town, seminal European commedia troupes donned their masks and ventured out in search of an audience. These activities called busking included music, tumbling, and short...

Building Halfface Masks

Leather masks are ideal for commedia. As you begin to sweat, they become pliable, melding into your skin, accepting the nuances of your face. Once this new layer of skin drops into you (and you to it), the mask takes over your spirit and soul. Unfortunately, leather masks take weeks to build (if you know how to build them) they must be shaped, stretched, hammered, and stained in a painstaking manner. If you know someone who is willing to donate or loan a set of leather masks, drop to your knees...

Building The Masks

Building a set of full-face masks is not a daunting task. Working together, a group of actors can construct a usable family of masks in a matter of days. There are intrinsic rewards in building your own masks as opposed to buying them from an independent vendor. You know your own masks inside and out. Your imagination is piqued during the process of design and construction. And it is empowering to breathe life into a mask you created. Transformation completes a cycle of creative artistry....

Cloaked In Mystery

Cloaks have as much power to transform as wigs. Wrapping yourself in a cloak can deepen your character or change it completely. The flow and feel of fabric imbues your Hu-Mask with new meanings. Cloaks, like wigs, often become integral to masked explorations. In these instances, your Hu-Mask must be properly wigged and cloaked to proceed. Ten-minute rotations, repeated in multiple masks Allow the cloak to deepen and alter your walk, gesture, and stance. Feel free to alter the drape of the cloak...

Complex Scripts

You can construct and use bag masks for scripted monologues in diverse plays. For example, Launcelot Gobbo in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice delivers a wonderful shift monologue in act 3, scene 5. Launcelot is struggling to decide whether to continue serving his cruel master, Shylock, or run away. He grapples with his inner angel and devil. These opposing forces are battling for control over his conscience. You will need a three-character bag for this monologue. Portions of the script demand...

Complex Shifts

Four-character bags allow you to test your ability to juggle extreme character demands, high emotion, and situation comedy. You will continue to combine physical and vocal choices. The sheer theatricality of playing four characters carries considerable weight. Clean scenes are exhilarating to perform bliss to watch. The key is to act with intelligence and clarity. Once you become a four-character master, your creative spirit will soar. Maximize and clarify each new bag mask performance. Then,...

Copy Cat Dirty

To create, in the real sense, means to discover and show new things. But what novelty is there in the stilted mannerisms and clich s of the fettered actor The original European commedia players lived hundreds of years ago. Their work was informed by the social, political, and economic issues of their age. We live and act in an entirely different period of time. What can we glean from these brethren artists How do their theatrical innovations continue to inform ours There are several areas of...

Core Exercises Acting In Halfface Masks

Happening or coming immediately. Becoming a specified thing very suddenly. Prepared quickly and with little effort. The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001 Half-face masking is based on instant transformation a technique, as its name implies, that promotes immediate change. You must tap instinctive responses to the masks, then act accordingly. Whereas full-face masks use pre-transformation meditation, and bag masks demand rehearsed scripts, these masks spark to life with little or...

Core Exercises In And Out Of Fullface Masks

It is entirely feasible to create masked characters and use those choices for non-masked roles. Activities provide opportunities to explore these options. The following two exercises shift between masked and unmasked activities. This allows you to experience working in and out of masks. You will utilize masked choices for non-masked activities. Trust the clarity of your physical and vocal Hu-Mask choices. Maintain those choices when unmasked. Focus intently on your activity. 1. Return to the...

Core Exercises Onecharacter Bagging

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct, acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. The first set of exercises permits you to experience the art of bag masking with just one character. Concentrate on working for specificity and truth. Do not allow your monologues to become larger than life. You may feel larger than life but, for the time being, do not become a bag god. As always, strive for physical and...

Core Exercises Reviewing And Modifying

Returning to a mask fortifies your ability to recreate Hu-Masks with accuracy. You will discover new ways of moving and communicating that further define the principle traits of that mask. This is a good time to review Modifying Results exercises 1.5 and 1.6. Exercise 1.19 Maximizing Hu-Mask Discoveries Choose a favorite mask that triggered a noteworthy transformation. Take time to reconnect with that Hu-Mask. Next, maximize each aspect of the character. Maximizing discoveries promotes highly...

Creating An Original Commedia

Your ensemble is now positioned to create a short play using the Hu-Masks explored in previous exercises. Developing a new piece of theater synthesizes several elements modern stock characters, instant transformation, working in pairs, busking, and individual lazzi. Rather than following a set script, the next series of exercises uses original inspirations as source material. As a launching point, take stock of your stock 1. List each Hu-Mask created by the ensemble Name Occupation Lazzi Age...

Dream State

Imagination is more important than knowledge. With practice and patience, full-face masking often seems like dreaming. As in dreams, Hu-Masks take mysterious turns at unexpected times. We empower them to introduce new realms of thought and expression. Thus, you will often sense that you cannot control the flow of action and are being led from one event to another. In addition, you become so deeply immersed in the work that your sense of time is altered. It may seem as though you have been...

Eli Simon

This unique and outstanding honk addresses the most complex problem of acting how does an actor inhabit a character, engage an audience, and at the same lime retain indeed, capitalize upon his or her individual authenticity Professor Simons solutions are as delightful as tliev are instinctive. An eye-opening work that will prove immeasurably useful to actors at all levels. Robert Cohen. Claire Trevor Professor of Drama, UC Irvine

Essence

The intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something that determines its character. The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001 Statues allow you to clarify the essence of your Hu-Mask. Statues should not be confused with stance. Stance is the way you stand. Statues are fluid moments of stillness that describe the unique inner and outer qualities of the Hu-Mask. Clarifying essence fulfills several acting objectives. To begin, you fight against generalized choices. Refining the...

Essentially Still

Perpetual activity is difficult to control and nearly impossible to watch. Actors who are always in motion have the misguided notion that they must do, do, do in order to be funny, funny, funny. In clowning, and in most other forms of acting, nothing could be further from the truth. Novice clown performances are undermined by an overabundance of energy that is impossible to sustain. Performers and audience members become bored. Alert stillness, on the other hand, offers time to absorb events,...

Four Families Of Masks

The four families of masks follow a logical order. Exercises build se-quentially newly acquired techniques lead directly to more advanced challenges. Start at the beginning of a chosen chapter and move through the exercises in order. Foundation, core, advanced, and applied exercises are so designated. If you are engaging in an overview of multiple chapters, complete core exercises before switching masks. The salient features of each family of masks are as follows Physical and vocal...

Fresh Air At Last

Half-face Hu-Masks love to cavort outside. Beyond the studio doors, a wondrous sense of freedom awaits. Sunlight, wind, foreign sounds, and smells stimulate your senses. Fresh impulses course through your veins. Unmasked people stand nearby watching and wondering. After cavorting exclusively in the studio, this abrupt environmental shift can be awe-inspiring. Be patient. Explore the expanded universe piece by piece. Connect with one impulse at a time. And stay away from moving cars. For your...

From Mask To Humask

In the interest of clarity, and to avoid general confusion as you read the book, let's clarify the differences between masks and Hu-Masks. Before you put on a mask it is not inhabited, not alive, and therefore not yet a Hu-Mask (a human in a mask). At the precise moment you drop into character, the mask becomes a Hu-Mask. The genesis of transformation also marks the genesis of discovery. This is when you begin to discover the Hu-Mask's unique traits. Each Hu-Mask breathes, thinks, moves, and...

In And Out Of Bag Masks

The following exercises test your ability to maintain specific character choices unmasked. Choose one of the bags that yielded precise results. Review your script for accuracy. Sloppy memorization sloppy acting. 1. Repeat exercise 2.11, Walking and Talking, Take Three, in bag mask. 2. Now perform the script out of bag mask. Were you able to repeat your performance in bag mask Were you able to maintain transformation out of bag mask Which performance was more convincing What did you learn...

In Conclusion

Reflect on the myriad ways you have learned to shift. You are aware of vocal and physical differentiation. You are more expressive in each of these key areas. You are adept at adding surprises to your performances. You are capable of making your work deeper, cleaner, and thus more articulate. In addition, your creative forces are fully engaged. You have built masks and created scenes. Then,

Info

Hu-Mask broken ukulele entertainer-in-a-box Hu-Mask broken ukulele entertainer-in-a-box 8. Find statue essence with prop and activity. Practice this exercise with three masks you have used. Discussion What prop did the Hu-Mask choose Why What activity was launched How did the activity arise Define the Hu-Mask's relationship with the prop. two minute per mask ten minutes total Before moving to scene work, take a moment to review the half-face Hu-Masks you have created thus far. A note This...

Introduction

T his book offers a detailed account of four mask acting systems full-face (tragic) masks, bag masks, clowning, and half-face (comme-dia) masks. Each section is pedagogically designed to fortify basic acting skills. You may be wondering how your acting technique will be improved. What can you expect to learn by working in masks To begin, it is important to understand that different sets of masks stimulate different areas of growth. Every masked journey involves multifarious experiences. Expect...

Jokes

A logical starting point for applied bag masking is joke telling. Jokes present tremendous acting challenges. You must have command of the script. The story must be told with commitment. Details are critical. Results are immediate If the audience laughs, you told a good joke well. If you are met with silence or groans, you have either told a bad joke, or told a good joke badly. In either event (unless your audience has no sense of humor) you can immediately gauge your joke-telling skills. You...

Journaling

Actors often equate working in masks (especially full-face masks) with dreaming. In the process of becoming a Hu-Mask, actors enter trancelike states of being. Immediate imagery is vivid. However, as with dreams, details become blurred with time. This is one reason it's sound practice to keep an ongoing account of your mask explorations. Why risk the chance of forgetting cogent breakthroughs Journaling also provides needed respites from the rigors of transformation nonstop masking is...

Lets Face It

The best way to commence clowning is to put on the nose and experiment with faces. You will find that shifting facial expressions puts you (as opposed to a character in a play) at the core of the work. Don't fight this. Embrace the duality you as clown, clown as you. At this formative stage of the process, try to follow your instincts and remain open to discoveries. You may be surprised to find that specific expressions consistently evoke audience response. A note In order to avoid violating...

Making Bag Masks

Constructing bag masks is a low-tech endeavor. Do not worry about creating the next Mona Lisa this is not a best-in-bag competition. Even those with little or no mask building experience can create wonderfully expressive bags. Fulfilling your design concept is gratifying, as is inhabiting the bag once it is built. After all, you are the sole creator of the mask and sole inhabitor of consequent Hu-Bag characters. The bag and Hu-Bags are yours in imagination and reality. You have earned the...

Masking Questions And Answers

Am I just wearing a mask or am I really acting Great acting demands more than simply walking in someone else's shoes. Great acting demands inhabitation of shoes, skin, brain, breath, eyes, and heart. Masking promotes the comprehensive inhabitation of another being. This includes physical, emotional, vocal, and psychological transformation. You breathe new air. See with new eyes. Think new thoughts. Experience new needs. Working in masks prompts deeply motivated acting. 2. Is it difficult to...

Maximizing And Minimizing

Bag mask performances are improved by maximizing and minimizing physical and vocal characteristics. It is possible, of course, to overemphasize acting choices. If this happens, tone down choices and bring your characters back to reality. Please see chapter one, Full-Face Masks, Modifying Results, exercises 1.5 and 1.6. 1. Work with one character at a time. 2. Repeat street scene with walking and activities. 4. Maximize physical choices to levels to 6, 8, and 10. 5. Minimize physical choices to...

Mm

Now that you have put your scene on its feet, let's inject a high degree of vocal differentiation. Deepening vocal placement also deepens your acting choices. Exercise 2.6 Talk This Way, No Talk This Way Use the same script as exercise 2.5. Concentrate on maximizing vocal choices. Pay attention to accents, rhythms, intonation, and pauses. Make sure that you are not relying on your own vocal habits. Please see chapter one, Full Face Masks, Modifying Results, exercise 1.5. 1. Working without the...

Overview

A characterization is the mask which hides the actor-individual. Protected by it he can lay bare his soul down to the last intimate detail. Stanislavski, Building a Character Full -face masking fulfills a fundamental goal of high-level acting the comprehensive inhabitation of an other. This involves much more than just walking in someone else's shoes. In addition to that new walk, you experience profound emotional and psychological change. You think foreign thoughts, speak strange languages,...

Palgrave

MASKING UNMASKED Copyright Eli Simon, 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010 and Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England RG21 6XS. Companies and representatives throughout the world. PALGRAVE MACMILLAN is the global academic imprint of the Palgrave Macmillan division of St. Martin's...

Physical Shifts

In the following exercises, the primary focus is on delineating clear physical shifts. This does not negate the fine work you have done with vocal variance. Once the physical work is complete, we'll merge body and voice. You can fine tune both elements of expressiveness as your scene progresses. With three-character bags it is important to take your time developing the performance. Accelerating too quickly leads to inaccurate choices. Practice physical shifts slowly at first. Increase speed...

Premask Foundation Exercises

Prior to each day's exercises, take time to engage in a thorough physical and vocal warm-up. A comprehensive warm-up prepares your body, voice, and mind to respond to creative ideas and impulses. It also reduces the risk of injury to tight muscles, ligaments, and vocal chords. Once you are warmed-up you will be able to mask utilizing the full extent of your instrument. In the following warm-up, each physical exertion is accompanied by a vocal task. Warm-up with integrity. This means really...

Putting It All Together

Mini-commedias should not be saddled with complex plots. You can string together active moments with slender slices of logic. Simple plot devices work best. Introduce new Hu-Masks to propel the plot forward. Replace Hu-Masks that do not serve the action or lack intrinsic entertainment value. Incorporate new scenes and monologues daily. Retain what works. Do not become overattached to specific Hu-Masks or lazzi. Be brutal in assessing cuts. Toss out Hu-Masks that bog down the plot, are sloppily...

Raising The Stakes

Heightened stakes I must juggle these sixteen watermelons and will risk the humiliation of dropping them all over the pristine studio ensures eventual success. It may seem insane to raise the stakes but that is precisely what motivates a clown to push through failure in order to bask in glory. The moment stakes are lowered, your clown loses momentum. You may as well pack up the watermelon and head for home the act is over. Therefore, do not run from failure jump through it, around it, or over...

Risk

To act in such a way as to bring about a fortunate or unfortunate situation. The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001 What does it mean to take performance risks Do you have to jump through windows, swallow knives, or withstand verbal abuse Let's hope not, otherwise there wouldn't be many actors around to train as clowns. Clowning should never include risks that result in physical or mental injury. For example, clowns who trade punches are skilled combat artists. We laugh because we...

Rules Of The Road

No hitting other Hu-Masks, running into walls, or jumping from dangerous heights. 2. Actors must drop out of mask when ordered to do so. This command may come from the coach or other actors in the space. Working quickly prompts intuitive responses. There is no time allotted for meditation. Drop immediately into Hu-Mask. Avoid overthinking. Trust initial responses. 1. Actors choose masks quickly. 2. Step to the standing line, facing away from the mirror in neutral-ready. 3. Put on mask. Adjust...

Shifty Business

Change in emphasis, direction, or focus. Change gear in a vehicle she shifted down to fourth. The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001 Bag masking begins with one-character monologues and progresses to two-, three-, and four-character scenes in which you play all the parts. The work escalates in difficulty, character by character, exercise by exercise. Your success in multiple-character performances is predicated on precise handling of acting shifts. Acting shifts encompass a wide...

Speaking Up

This is a good time to offer your Hu-Masks an opportunity to vocalize. Most full-face Hu-Masks do not vocalize unprompted they need encouragement to find sounds. There are several reasons for this The mask covers your mouth. You cannot see your lips moving. The mask mutes normal vibrations. Hu-Masks are childlike in nature and have not mastered language. Without solid encouragement Hu-Masks remain silent or, at best, utter guttural sounds. When quiet masks begin to grunt, moan, sing, or speak,...

Strong Emotion Ahead

A natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001. Full-face masks often induce intense emotional responses. Thoughts run near the surface but feelings run deep. These emotions leap between joy and sadness, pleasure and anger, and jealousy and love. Emotional surges occur during every facet of the work when viewing the masks, wearing them, or reviewing exercises. Sometimes an actor will...

Studio Setup

Wall of mirrors on one side of the studio. Taped standing line three feet from mirror. Table for wigs and hats (used for exercise 4.11 and after). Clothing strewn around the studio (used for exercise 4.12 and after). Table for props (used for exercise 4.13 and after). Be willing to make a mess. Half-face Hu-Masks come to life when costumes, wigs, and props are strewn throughout the studio. A wild space supports spontaneous choices and free play.

Terminology

A mask is the object that covers part or all of your face. A Hu-Mask is the character you become a human in a mask. Transformation refers to the change in your thoughts, actions, voice, and body when you shift from an actor in a mask to a Hu-Mask. Triggers are sensory stimuli that initiate masked transformations. Dropping in refers to the moment you put on the mask and begin the process of transformation. Dropping out refers to the moment you take off the mask and return to your self....

Top Or Bottom

Most half-face masks cover either the upper half of your face (top of forehead to below the nose) or the lower half (from nose to chin). Some half-face masks cover the right or left side of the face (Phan-tom-of-the-Opera style). Clowning utilizes a minimalist partial-face mask. Traditional commedia half-face masks cover the upper portion of the face. It is interesting to note that slight alterations to a mask's forehead, cheeks, or nose powerfully affect the nature of the mask. This chapter...

Transformation

A thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001 Why are full-face masks transformational For starters, they cover your entire face. Facial expressions are our primary means of establishing identification. We learn this at a tender age. As babies we gauge love, trust, and understanding by scrutinizing parental visages. By the time we are toddlers, we read meaning in each wrinkle, wart, and pore. Full-face masks completely alter our...

Triggering Exercises

An event or thing that causes something to happen. The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001 Your senses seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling cou-pled with active imagination initiate mask transformations. This is called triggering a powerful means of working from the out-side-in. Typically, transformations begin with body, move to voice, and then incorporate thoughts, needs, and emotions. In order to generate powerful full-face mask transformations you must open your...

Using The Book

Roughly speaking, there are two ways to use this book. You can explore one genre of masking by focusing your efforts within a single chapter. Or you can explore two or more sets of masks at once, combining exercises in different chapters. Choosing your methodology is a matter of deciding what best serves your acting needs and how much time you can dedicate to the process. Complete foundation, core, advanced, and applied exercises Study intensively within that genre of masking Gain a...

Vulnerability

When faced with disaster you will either run, hide, deny events, or stay in the moment and put your soul on the line. Choose the latter. Doing so demands a high degree of vulnerability. Truly vulnerable clowns are fully committed to yes-mode acting. They acknowledge trials and tribulations. They share the truth of each moment, no matter how uncomfortable it is to share. Acknowledged failure magnifies a clown's essence and is the surest means of solidifying audience connection. True...

Watchers

Actors should be watchers as well as maskers. There is intrinsic value in observing peers transform in masks. Creativity is heightened when shifting between doing and watching. Teachers are also watchers they monitor exercises, keep the space safe, and offer side coaching when necessary. Hu-Masks are usually aware that they are being watched. They do not seem to mind. However, they instinctively prefer to interact with other Hu-Masks. These are like-minded members of their family. They share an...

Wigging

If you have ever played around with wigs (most actors have) you know that they are powerful transformers. Wigs trigger internal transformations in much the same way as masks. If you allow a Hu-Mask free choice, it will generally choose the same wig. When this occurs, the mask and wig meld they just belong together. Interestingly, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to continue masking without that specific wig. ten-minute rotations, repeated in multiple masks If you are not certain whether...

Wigs

Wigs are powerful transformers and, like masks, can be used as primary triggers for new characters. They can entirely alter your appearance. We use them in this section to compliment your masked visage. It's best to collect fifteen to twenty wigs. These should offer a wide array of styles and colors long, medium, and short blonde, black, brown, white, red, and gray. My collection is comprised of throw-aways from the costume shop and bargain bin cheapos culled from thrift stores. Comb a few....

Yesmode

Used to give an affirmative response. Expressing delight. The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001 Many outstanding clowns are defined by an intrinsic sense of hope. Even in the face of shattering adversity, they retain an innate sense of positivism. One way to ensure that you make positive choices is to act in yes-mode. This means accepting what happens to you on stage and moving forward with your act. Since your clown (as governed by the rules of clowning) is not...

Building Fullface Masks

The recipe that follows yields light, durable, and long-lived masks. They are actor-friendly. These are not leather masks such as those constructed by the famous Italian Sartori family. But, unlike their leather cousins (created over several weeks with repeated hammering, soaking, hammering, drying, hammering, sanding, hammering, dyeing), these are painless to design and build. The original members of my full-face family are now twelve years old. They have been used by hundreds of actors in...

Busking Rules

Do not announce your intention to busk. Catch your audience by surprise this keeps them on their toes. It also gives you an honest opportunity to win them over. 2. Be persistent in your attempts to build a crowd. Quitters never win. 3. Respect the wishes of those who steadfastly refuse interaction (nobody wins if you get punched in the mask). If you are musical, your primary attempts at building a crowd will revolve around song. Once you are singing, for example, you can determine if this is...

Neutral Walk

Bag mask exercises are framed by a neutral walk entrance and exit. In the neutral walk, you move from point A to point B with just the amount of energy required to traverse the studio. This does not imply low-energy slouching or shuffling. Your neutral walk should have physical integrity without excess tension. A well-executed neutral walk allows you to enter the performance space without commenting on your work. The audience perceives you walking into the space, going about your business,...

Sharing The Stage Duos

There is great value in partnering with other clowns. Up until now your solo acts permitted you to dominate the stage. In duo clowning, the stage must be shared. Your attention must constantly shift between activity, partner, and audience. To begin, engage in an activity, then share key moments with the audience. In this way, try to win your watchers over make them your confidants. This will bolster your duo act (especially if you are in conflict with your partner). There are many ways to...

The Greeks

When you produce the greatest effect upon the audience are you in your right mind Are you not carried outside of yourself Ancient Greek theater enjoyed a golden age of playwrighting and production between 530 and 400 B.C. During this period, the seminal playwrights of the age Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides addressed the fundamental nature of mankind and its relationship to the gods, society, laws, traditions, and fellow humans. Their plays contained the seeds of modern Western theater....

Core Exercises Two Character Bagging Vocal Shifts

You are now ready for an additional challenge creating and performing decisive shifts in two-character bag masks. These scenes are more than twice as difficult as single-character bags. Both characters must be differentiated in body, voice, thought, tempo, and emotion. But attempting to shift all of these components at once is daunting. It is best to shift in layers incorporating one new element at a time. We begin with vocal shifts. Remember that shifting, and shifting well, strikes at the...

Core Exercises Dynamic Duos

Half-face Hu-Masks have a childlike love of games. They are naturally inclined to play with other masks. A few Hu-Masks, like shy children, prefer to play alone. But even the most reticent Hu-Masks can usually be induced to play. All you need is an appealing stream of interactive options. Once you begin partnering with other Hu-Masks, you must remain open to impulses and ideas. Develop ideas collaboratively neither you nor your partner should be sole director of the scene. Choose a mask you...

Essence In One Word

At this stage of the process, your individual clown essence is emerging. In order to isolate and clarify your essence, the audience must take an active role in post-exercise discussions. Each watcher chooses one word that accurately defines that clown's essence. Crystallized feedback prevents discussions from degenerating into detrimental overanalysis. The word must encapsulate some aspect of the clown's persona. Nothing more or less. As you will find, choosing only one word forces thoughtful...

Deepening Clown Essence

Music is liberating when the rhythm and melody matches your clown essence. There is no telling what type of music will best suit your act. Your clown's musical taste might be rooted in jazz, classical, rock, new age, country Western, bluegrass, gospel, blues, or folk. Do you have an image of your dance occurring in a certain setting What music might be playing there Listen to sounds that are beyond personal actor tastes. Borrow CDs from friends or the library. Listen to a wide array of...

The Nose Knows

Clowning exercises begin with the mask itself a traditional clown's red nose. Let's consider this nose for a moment. Is it a mask We don't tend to think of clowns as performers wearing masks. Although it is relatively small, the clown nose is a mask a partial-face mask. Don't be fooled by this terminology partial masks have just as much power as their larger cousins. Clown noses are as transformative as full-face masks, as shifty as bag masks, and as playful as half-face masks. A clown nose...