Different types of masks in theatre

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Different types of masks in theatre

The use of masks in ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the ancient Dionysian cult. Thespis was the first writer, who used a mask. The members of the chorus wore masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the leading actors.

Ancient Greek Costumes, Masks And Theater In Focus

Picture 1 portrays a sort of mask suitable for the chorus. Because the number of actors varied from one to three, they had to put on different masks, in order to play more roles.

The actors were all men. The mask was therefore necessary to let them play the female roles.

different types of masks in theatre

Picture 2 portrays a woman's mask. Some people claim that the masks had one more significance : they added resonance to the voice of an actor so that everyone in the huge ancient theater could hear him Baldry I do not quite agree with that point of view.

I think it's enough for someone to attend a modern performance of a play in the ancient theater of Epidaurus to feel the perfection of the acoustics in an ancient theater. Even the audience of the last row can hear a whisper from the orchestra.

An interesting idea Wiles is that the mask could give to the character some sort of universality, creating an average figure, so that the audience would judge him on his actions and not his appearance.

Certainly that was a result of the use of the mask but I am not quite convinced that it was one of the purposes of its use. Usually the masks were made of linen, wood, or leather. A marble or stone face was used as a mould for the mask. Human or animal hair was also used. The eyes were fully drawn but in the place of the pupil of the eye was a small hole so that the actor could see.

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different types of masks in theatre

Elias Karayannakos, All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy This site uses cookies to store information on your computer.Mask Types.

Common mask types. Theatre masks - Ancient Greece has handed us down a pair of plain white masks representing two basic emotions and acting styles - comedic and dramatic.

Theatre masks focuses an audience's attention on the actor's movements and speech, and the design can amplify sound waves and reach more people during a performance. A similar-looking mask is worn by actors in a Japanese Noh play, along with ceremonial robes.

You'll also see masks used by medicine men for their trance dances. Masquerade masks - a standard in balls, masquerade masks come in a variety of formats, shapes and sizes, for men and women.

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They are also known as Venetian masks, whose medieval court held the world's first masquerade balls. Masquerade masks add elements of mystery and glamour to parties.

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The most common type is the half-face maskwhich covers only the eye area. A full mask though leaves the mouth area open, to allow for eating and drinking. More elaborate masks cover the whole head, with feathers and other designs mounted on the back.

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Stick masks, which have to be held close to the face, are mostly decorative and for sightseeing rather than dancing. An elastic band makes a mask comfortable for various sizes. Face masks are popular for fun parties and occasions like Halloween. They can take the shape of animals, popular cartoon characters, or ghoulish creations. Many mask collectors make it a point to have a representative from as many cultures of the world as they can. Here are some interesting mask designs grouped by traditional communities in the six inhabited continents: Africa: Here, masks were used in shamanic rituals and as cultural props for initiation into puberty and an adult role in village society.

The Dan and N'Tomo tribes make masks with stylised facial features, with a smooth surface of wood or clay, and marked by simple lines and eye-holes. Pendant masks from Benin were not worn on the face but strung around the neck as a symbol of power. North America: the Inuit of Alaska made burial masks to honour their dead, as well as ceremonial masks for shamans and as a spirit-guide for hunting or recovery from illness.

The Inuits and other North American native masks were made from leather, bones, and wood. Latin America: The Aztecs' most ornate masks incorporated precious gems and gold into their designs. The masks in this region express themselves with colour and a wide variety of materials, fur, papier mache, leather and moulded metal. Brazil's Mardi Gras celebrations feature a rich tradition of decorative masks.

Asia: masks are used in Chinese lion dances, Tibetan stage plays and religious rituals. The Japanese Noh mask is porcelain white and has the barest minimum of facial features. India's mask designs left their mark on Southeast Asia, which developed particularly in Bali, Indonesia.

Oceania: Aboriginal masks are dot-painted, and are present in initiation ceremonies, serving as totemic symbols. Hawaii and the Maori have fierce-looking full-face masks. Gigantic masks from the South Pacific were not meant to be worn but were used in rituals.Masks have been used almost universally to represent characters in theatrical performances.

Theatrical performances are a visual literature of a transientmomentary kind. It is most impressive because it can be seen as a reality; it expends itself by its very revelation. The mask participates as a more enduring element, since its form is physical. The mask as a device for theatre first emerged in Western civilization from the religious practices of ancient Greece.

When a literature of worship appeared, a disguise, which consisted of a white linen mask hung over the face a device supposedly initiated by Thespisa 6th-century- bce poet who is credited with originating tragedyenabled the leaders of the ceremony to make the god manifest.

Thus symbolically identified, the communicant was inspired to speak in the first person, thereby giving birth to the art of drama. In Greece the progress from ritual to ritual-drama was continued in highly formalized theatrical representations. Masks used in these productions became elaborate headpieces made of leather or painted canvas and depicted an extensive variety of personalities, ages, ranks, and occupations. Moreover, their use made it possible for the Greek actors—who were limited by convention to three speakers for each tragedy—to impersonate a number of different characters during the play simply by changing masks and costumes.

Details from frescoes, mosaics, vase paintings, and fragments of stone sculpture that have survived to the present day provide most of what is known of the appearance of these ancient theatrical masks.

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The tendency of the early Greek and Roman artists to idealize their subjects throws doubt, however, upon the accuracy of these reproductions. In fact, some authorities maintain that the masks of the ancient theatre were crude affairs with little aesthetic appeal. In the Middle Agesmasks were used in the mystery plays of the 12th to 16th century. In plays dramatizing portions of the Bible, grotesques of all sorts, such as devils, demons, dragons, and personifications of the seven deadly sinswere brought to stage life by the use of masks.

But again, no reliable pictorial record has survived. Masks used in connection with present-day carnivals and Mardi Gras and those of folk demons and characters still used by central Europeans, such as the Perchten masks of Alpine Austria, are most likely the inheritors of the tradition of medieval masks. The 15th-century Renaissance in Italy witnessed the rise of a theatrical phenomenon that spread rapidly to France, to Germany, and to England, where it maintained its popularity into the 18th century.

Comedies improvised from scenarios based upon the domestic dramas of the ancient Roman comic playwrights Plautus c. Adopting the Roman stock figures and situations to their own usages, the players of the commedia were usually masked. Sometimes the masking was grotesque and fanciful, but generally a heavy leather mask, full or half face, disguised the commedia player.

Excellent pictorial records of both commedia costumes and masks exist; some sketches show the characters of Harlequin and Columbine wearing black masks covering merely the eyes, from which the later masquerade mask is certainly a development.

Except for vestiges of the commedia in the form of puppet and marionette showsthe drama of masks all but disappeared in Western theatre during the 18th, 19th, and first half of the 20th centuries.

In modern revivals of ancient Greek plays, masks have occasionally been employed, and such highly symbolic plays as Die versunkene Glocke The Sunken Bell ; by German writer Gerhart Hauptmann — and dramatizations of Alice in Wonderland have required masks for the performers of grotesque or animal figures.

Irish poet-playwright W. Yeats — revived the convention in his Dreaming of the Bones and in other plays patterned upon the Japanese Noh drama. Modern art movements are often reflected in the design of contemporary theatrical masks. The stylistic concepts of Cubism and Surrealismfor example, are apparent in the masks executed for a production of La favola del figlio cambiato The Fable of the Transformed Son by Italian dramatist Luigi Pirandello — The mask, however, unquestionably lost its importance as a theatrical convention in the 20th century, and its appearance in contemporary Western plays is unusual.

In many ways akin to Greek drama in origin and theme, the Noh drama of Japan has remained a significant part of national life since its beginnings in the 14th century.

Noh masks, of which there are about named varieties, are rigidly traditional and are classified into five general types: old persons male and femalegods, goddesses, devils, and goblins. The material of the Noh mask is wood with a coating of plasterwhich is lacquered and gilded.Since the dawn of theater, many cultures from around the world elected to represent actors as other persons of beings, enabling performances that were much more striking and effective.

Theater traditions in both West and the Asia adopted masks as one of the most important tools that could be used on stage, often creating plays that were fully acted by masked actors. Most notable example of this approach was born in ancient Greece, specifically the state-city of Athens where culture, poetry, and art were valued as an important foundation of daily lives. Stage drama received special care, enabling quick popularization of three main types of plays— tragedy, comedy, and satyr play comedic satire.

The earliest example of masks was used for various religious ceremonies such as rituals, celebrations, festivals, rites of passages, recreations of folk stories, pageants, and many other ceremonies of ancient origins.

Some of the older masks used in religious healing date up to years ago in Ancient China. Traditions of those events translated well into the creation of organized use of masks in China around 13th century AD. Murals and paintings from that time described the use of various masks during ceremonies performed by sorcerers, exorcism masks and theater performances that were at first performed only to royalty and nobility. All theater masks from that early period of history were lost to time because they were not created to be durable, and were often offered to the fire as offering to the gods at the end of the celebration.

Much later, Athenian actors used now famous happy masks of Comedy and sad masks of Tragedy to celebrate gods especially during a festival called Dionysia, which honored the Greek god Dionysus, god of fertility, harvest, wine-making, religious ecstasy, myth, and theater created from more durable materials. They exported their craft to all colonies of Athens, popularizing theater and mask-use across central Europe where new users used masks for many other purposes.

For example, marks were very popular in neighboring civilization of Ancient Rome, where masks of many kinds were used not only in theater but also in religious ceremonies such as funerals where professional actors wearing masks would recreate deeds from the life of the deceased and his ancestors.

In Asia, modern traditions of famous Japanese Noh theater formed in the 14th century by famous author and musician Kan'ami and his son Zeami. In this heavily codified and regulated art form that is still performed today, single theater play consists of five musical drama segments with shorter comedic plays being played in between of them.

Masks that are here used for roles vary widely, reaching a number of over different models.

Theatrical uses

The most popular ones are those of women, children, ghosts both good and bad ones and old people, covering all genres, ages, and emotions. Many centuries after the fall of Ancient Greece and Rome, the tradition of mask use in theater and public ceremonies endured in continental Europe. Regular theater production from medieval, renaissance and Victorian ages all used masks to some extent, especially in plays that featured puppetry and other forms of tools that elevated visual storytelling.

In late 19th and 20th century, avant-garde art movement gave new life to theater masks culture via several distinct art movements that became very influential in Europe and America traditional avant-garde art, Naturalism, Oriental Theatre, modern dance, modern mime and others. The rise of the cinema film also enabled masks to be used in an entirely different art form where they were used to portray many types of otherworldly characters, persons who wanted to become symbols, changes of persona and horror beings.

History Of Masks. Home Famous Masks Theater Masks.Last Updated on February 20, Ellen Lloyd - AncientPages. Theater played an important role in ancient Greece. History of the Greek theatre started with festivals held in honor of their gods honoring their gods. A god, Dionysus, was honored with a festival called by "City Dionysia". In the days of Solon, people were often to be seen wandering around the streets during the festival of Dionysus, god of wine.

They were clad in goatskins, were smeared with the dregs of wine and danced and sang rude songs in honor of their god. The Ancient Theatre of Delphi. Image credit: Leonid Tsvetkov. These songs were called tragedies. It is interesting to note that tragedy means in Greek mean "goat song," because the goat was sacred to the god whom they thus worshiped. The people were greatly amused by the rude songs and dances. Thespis of Icaria, a Greek poet, and first Greek actor, noticed how popular these amusements were.

To please the public taste he set up the first rude theater. In the beginning, it was only a few boards raised on trestles to form a sort of stage in the open air.

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However, Thespis of Icaria soon built a booth, so that the actors, when not on the stage, could be hidden from public view. The first plays, were very simple, and consisted of popular songs rudely acted. Later, the plays became more and more elaborate, and the actors tried to represent some of the tales which the story-tellers had told.

Some people disapproved of this kind of amusement. One of them was was Solon, who said that Thespis of Icaria was teaching the Athenians to love a lie, because they liked the plays, which, of course, were not true. Theater of Epidaurus. Image credit: Wikipedia. However, the plays continued. New actors started playing and great poets wrote works for the stage. Soon, a huge amphitheater was built. It was so large that there were seats for thirty thousand spectators. Theatre buildings were called a theatron.

The theaters were large, open-air structures constructed on the slopes of hills. They consisted of three main elements: the orchestra, the scene, and the audience. Theater in ancient Greece became very popular. Tragedy, comedy, and satyr plays were theatrical forms.Since the coronavirus outbreak began in China last yearface masks have gone from something you see on your dental hygienist to a sold-out commodity in high demand, despite warnings from high-ranking health officials that the masks could do more harm than good when worn by healthy people.

But certain masks are appropriate for certain people to wear as the novel coronavirus spreads. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionpeople who are sick with COVID and around other people, home caregivers of patients who cannot wear a mask, and healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients can all benefit from masks, which may help prevent novel coronavirus droplets from spreading.

Not all masks are created equal, though: Face masks like the N95 help contain virus particles from people with symptoms who must go out in public, and help keep health workers safe from contracting the virus through particles released by mucus and cough sputum when they are around infected individuals.

More expensive full-face respirators should be reserved for people who have trouble breathing in regular masks, or healthcare workers whose facial hair prevents an N95 mask from sealing correctly. Here's the breakdown of which conditions each mask is designed for and who really needs to wear one. Remember, all of this protective assurance only applies if you wear the mask correctly, and make sure it fits snugly. Most people don't do that.

A "P" mask is, by contrast, "oil proof," but that's kind of overkill for a novel virus that is most often transmitted through coughing and close contact between people. P masks filter out at least Most people don't know how to properly wear a mask in the first place.

Washing your handsstaying a safe distance away from sick people at least six feet between you and themand avoiding touching your face when your hands are dirty, are all far easier, cheaper, and more effective measures for the general public to adopt to avoid contracting COVIDa disease which is spread through respiratory droplets which are coughed and spit out of infected individuals.

Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you'd like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email covidtips businessinsider. Account icon An icon in the shape of a person's head and shoulders. It often indicates a user profile. Login Subscribe. My Account.

World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. As the novel coronavirus spreads throughout the US, people have clamored for now sold-out or up-charged masks of all types in an effort to protect themselves.

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Health experts have said over and over that healthy people should not buy maskssince they won't do much to protect you and purchasing them will deplete the supply for people who do need them — like sick patients and healthcare workers.

Here's a breakdown of all the different types of face masks and who should — and shouldn't — be wearing them. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Loading Something is loading.A mask is an object normally worn on the facetypically for protection, disguiseperformanceor entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes, as well as in the performing arts and for entertainment. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer's body.

More generally in art historyespecially sculpture"mask" is the term for a face without a body that is not modelled in the round which would make it a "head"but for example appears in low relief. The word "mask" appeared in English in the s, from Middle French masque "covering to hide or guard the face", derived in turn from Italian mascherafrom Medieval Latin masca "mask, specter, nightmare".

This in turn is of uncertain origin — perhaps from a Germanic source akin to English "mesh", but perhaps from mask- "black", a borrowing from a pre-Indo-European language.

The use of masks in rituals or ceremonies is a very ancient human practice across the world, [4] although masks can also be worn for protection, in hunting, in sports, in feasts, or in wars — or simply used as ornamentation.

Although the religious use of masks has waned, masks are used sometimes in drama therapy or psychotherapy. One of the challenges in anthropology is finding the precise derivation of human culture and early activities, with the invention and use of the mask only one area of unsolved inquiry. The use of masks dates back several millennia. It is conjectured that the first masks may have generally been used by primitive people to associate the wearer with some kind of unimpeachable authority, such as "the gods" or to otherwise lend credence to the person's claim on a given social role.

In the Greek bacchanalia and the Dionysus cult, which involved the use of masks, the ordinary controls on behaviour were temporarily suspended, and people cavorted in merry revelry outside their ordinary rank or status. Sometimes a slave or a criminal was temporarily granted the insignia and status of royalty, only to be killed after the festival ended. In the Himalayasmasks functioned above all as mediators of supernatural forces. Masks in various forms sacred, practical, or playful have played a crucial historical role in the development of understandings about "what it means to be human", because they permit the imaginative experience of "what it is like" to be transformed into a different identity or to affirm an existing social or spiritual identity.

Throughout the world, masks are used for their expressive power as a feature of masked performance — both ritually and in various theatre traditions. The ritual and theatrical definitions of mask usage frequently overlap and merge but still provide a useful basis for categorisation.

different types of masks in theatre

The image of juxtaposed Comedy and Tragedy masks are widely used to represent the Performing Arts, and specifically drama. In many dramatic traditions including the theatre of ancient Greecethe classical Noh drama of Japan 14th century to presentthe traditional Lhamo drama of TibetTalchum in Korea, and the Topeng dance of Indonesiamasks were or are typically worn by all the performers, with several different types of mask used for different types of character.

In Ancient Rome, the word persona meant 'a mask'; it also referred to an individual who had full Roman citizenship. A citizen could demonstrate his or her lineage through imaginesdeath masks of the ancestors. These were wax casts kept in a larariumthe family shrine.


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