Devising with Masks
Why devise? I have always devised with masks because that is the richest way of working with them. Sometimes certain pieces of theatre are called ‘director’s theatre’ or ‘writer’s theatre’. Masks, if anything, are ‘actor’s theatre’, though in truth at best they are always ‘ensemble theatre’. Masks need to create their moments on the stage and can’t be written for in great detail – that is, after all, what killed Commedia. But devising also allows you to tap into a broader range of creativities, all the people involved get to contribute. It is a process that can so easily spiral out of control, so I think it is worth asking the questions, ‘Are you devising a project for the experience of the process, or for the outcome?’ ‘Is the project outcome focused or process focused?’ There will be a difference in the way one structures the work and pursues ideas if you work out the answer to that question. Most school-based work is experiential, whereas with professional work one is trying to get the best show at the end of it, and the process must reﬂect that.