Over the past two weeks, we have been creating our own masks for Commedia dell’Arte. We start with molding clay into a shape that we want for our mask. We then use the clay mold to create a plaster cast of the shape of our mask, which we then place leather over and begin to work the leather into the shape of the mask. After we shape the mask, we waterproof the inside and paint it, creating a mask that is completely unique to the individual who wears it. The process of making the masks was very different from our other classes, and in a fascinating way. We not only played characters using masks, we created the masks we use for the characters we play. The process of creating a character from painstaking exactness with clay and leather to performing the character on a stage was absolutely remarkable. The amount of time and effort put into each mask made the eventual completion all the sweeter. I and a few of my peers are very interested in continuing practicing leather mask making after we leave Italy.
A few weeks ago we had a Thai Massage workshop where we learned the basics of the tradition of Thai Massage from Scott Putman. Needless to say it was amazing to get to experience the massage, it is a full body practice that is restorative as well as energizing. Surprisingly it was also enjoyable and educational to give the massage. The practitioner learns about the workings of another human body kinesthetically and leaves with a better understanding of anatomy, which is a beautiful cross training for partner work in theatre or dance.
The Butoh workshop was without a doubt the highlight of the program. There were so many opportunities to expand my knowledge of movement in dance. The class taught slow movement in association with the mind and body. The performance included all styles of dance including some singing. The class has a strong movement vocabulary and helps students walk away with a variety of movement techniques.