‘Masks are empowering… They enable you to take risks. They provoke you into working with the reckless logic of a six-year-old or the enigmatic stillness of someone wiser than you’ll ever be. But above all, masks let you be you without your habitual limitations.’
In Playing the Mask, award-winning theatre-maker and teacher John Wright explores and demystifies mask-work: what masks do, how they do it, and, above all, what they can teach us about acting.
This book is a wonderfully accessible introduction to a fresh and innovative acting technique for actors, theatre-makers and teachers to use in training and rehearsal. A mask releases the actor to be playful, and playfulness generates ideas, finds meaning, develops characterisation – and is infinitely more fun than traditional training.
Rather than a dry guide to making masked theatre, it is about, for instance, playing Lady Macbeth in Red Nose, or Hamlet in the mask of The Victim, The Ogre or The Fool, or even Romeo and Juliet in grotesque half-masks… All in the name of liberating your creativity and, ultimately, improving your performance.
Extensively illustrated with a rich variety of masks, this inventive and pragmatic book is full of invaluable games and exercises drawn from the author’s own workshops, his experience as co-founder of both Trestle and Told by an Idiot, and his pioneering mask and clown work in many professional productions.
‘Brilliant, entertaining and accessible’ Paul Hunter, from his Foreword
‘Wright brings his teaching alive through an anarchic sense of humour and colourful storytelling, highlighting his wide experience and understanding of theatre… highly enjoyable as well as instructive’
— Drama Resource
‘Provocative and playful… the example exercises are invaluable references… [Wright’s insights] feel fresh and welcome in both the rehearsal room and drama school training’
— Drama Magazine
‘For a teacher wishing to find inventive new levels for teaching the craft of acting, this could be the answer… offers an innovative set of techniques for rehearsal and generates many useful ideas’
— Word Matters (Journal of the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama)