chapter  3
10 Pages

How the Mask Works

Many actors would baulk at the idea of using full masks on stage. Their principal means of expression has been taken away – the voice and the face. How then to communicate? Maybe they imagine a buffoon like mugging display, devoid of subtlety or substance. And yet the great actors of our time are used to working without the constant hum of text. Film actors have long recognised that a great deal of their innermost thoughts can be revealed through the minute changes in speed and rhythm that their bodies can portray. But on the stage, this visual, physical understanding is so often ignored. People seem terrified of silence. And yet our world is filled with sound that is not text. The sound of a knife placed on a table, a chair scraped back, the distant hum of traffic or an approaching storm – all atmospheric, dynamic colour that contributes to our understanding of an event. And then silence can be used for what it is, a powerful tool, a dramatic punctuation mark.