Training in mask work

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“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.” John Wright

Training in mask work can be important for actors for several reasons:


Masks provide a physicality that forces actors to exaggerate their movements and gestures. This kind of training can help actors develop better body awareness, improve their physical presence, and enhance their ability to express emotions through their body language.


Masks can create a detachment between the actor’s face and their emotions, allowing them to explore and convey a wide range of emotions through their body language, posture, and movement. Learning to communicate and express emotions without relying on facial expressions can make actors more versatile at communicating emotions.

Presence and projection:

Wearing a mask requires actors to project their voices and emotions in a clear and amplified manner. This training can be beneficial for actors to develop vocal projection, improve articulation, and enhance their stage presence, making them more captivating to an audience in a live performance context.

Character development:

Working with masks enables actors to step outside of their comfort zones and inhabit characters with distinct physical traits and personalities. The process of finding the character’s physicality and exploring their behaviors and mannerisms can help actors in developing a deeper understanding of character development.

Improvisation skills:

Mask work often involves improvisation exercises which can help actors become more spontaneous and flexible in their performances. By learning to adapt to different situations and challenges while wearing a mask, actors can develop their ability to think quickly on their feet and respond creatively to unexpected circumstances.

Ensemble skills:

Mask work is a highly collaborative process that demands a strong sense of ensemble from the actors involved. This kind of training can help actors develop teamwork skills, learn how to trust and support one another, and build a strong sense of ensemble, which is crucial for creating cohesive and impactful performances.

Masks as a method: Meyerhold to Mnouchkine – Essay by David Roy

“They serve to liberate the wearer from the inhibitions, laws and niceties of a seemingly well-ordered everyday life but are also a reminder that chaos and destruction and mutability are always with us.” – J. Foreman, Maskwork. Cambridge: Lutterworth Press