masks in public [g+ backpost]

Got to do some mask work in public today, which is always a mixture of joy an trepidation. Part of a little arts festival in a local shopping centre. We nearly ended before we began when a parent complained that we had frightened her child by strolling too close to her. Security closed in and we had an interesting but irresolvable discussion of “who is to say if something is appropriate in a public space?”

Actual show went very well. Our audience of mainly mums and tots really enjoyed it and we had a hardcore half-dozen who sat at our feet and interjected whenever they could. It was ace.

We did a mixture of full mask theatrical improvisation – eg I would narrate a story to which the other actors would respond – and a few scenes of full-on trance mask involving Joe, one of the more developed masks on the European scene. The kids lit up whenever he was about, and he responded well to them too: they really do operate on the same level. For instance, I sold Joe a fizzy drink, but once he had accepted it all the kids started yelling “it’s unhealthy!” – which is totally their “obvious” but not how things were being framed by me the adult. It was hilarious and led to understandable outrage from Joe demanding his cash back. In the same way, when Joe was retelling the fable of the fox and the stork, he indicated my nose to illustrate the stork’s features. Not polite, but what stood out to him!

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