Masks

Ancient theatrical convention ruled that masks were worn by all on-stage actors in both tragedy and comedy. You will need to decide whether or not you want to include masks in your practical piece. Have a look at clips of modern productions of ancient drama on YouTube, some good examples of which are included on this site. What difference do masks (or their absence) make to these plays?

Questions to think about:

  • From what you learn about ancient Athenian dramatic conventions, why do you think that masks were worn? (men played all the parts, limited number of actors etc.)
  • Without these dramatic conventions making masks compulsory, why do a number of productions of ancient drama still choose to include masks? (see Peter Hall’s Oresteia for a great example).
  • What impact will wearing a mask have on the performer?
  • What impact do masks have on an audience?

Resources

Take a look at the video and sound extracts from a workshop, ran by Prof Greg McCart at the Open University.

David Wiles’ chapter ‘The use of masks in modern performances of Greek tragedy’ in the volume Dionysus Since 69: Greek Tragedy at the Dawn of the Third Millenium is really helpful.

Didaskalia’s 2007 Winter issue is devoted to the subject of ‘Masks’.

Take a look at Peter Meineck’s conference paper, ‘”Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth”: The neuroscience of the tragic mask’. You can find his talk just after 43:30 The Athens Dialogues.

 

This book isn’t in the library yet, hence why I haven’t included it on the bibliography, but I am reliably informed that it is currently on order. So check the library catalogue! One will be in short loan so everyone should be able to get a look at it, providing it arrives in time.

 

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