Sad face, happy face. Coast actor Tracy Lloyd learned a lot from attending a four-month program on clowning. As a performer, one of the techniques for honing her inner clown was that of mask making.
"Actors are always pulling out a piece of themselves and examining it," she says.
In the program, she learned how to make three masks that represent three stages of her life: child, mid-life and elder, with the idea that this exercise can help access emotions and be a way to learn more about oneself. She will share this technique with other adults over four evenings at a mask-making workshop this fall.
The process involves taking a good hard look at oneself, in the nude. This part you do at home, alone. You sketch yourself as you look in a mirror and eventually develop a series of drawings.
You're trying to capture the feeling of who you are, while dropping your judgments and being honest about inner emotions. The object for actors who develop this kind of training, says Lloyd, is to try to get to neutral, that place where other characters can enter and appear on stage. The next step is to translate your thoughts into clay and papier-mâché to build masks that reflect you. Each participant will leave with the three masks they have built. Lloyd is an experienced performer who has worked with community and professional theatre for 25 years.
She studied theatre at Simon Fraser University and has been teaching it to kids and adults ever since she moved to the Coast 10 years ago. She will also be teaching Theatre for the Terrified in October. Yes, this mask making is close to therapy, she agrees, but she believes that a very fine line separates therapy and theatre. This mask-making workshop is not only for performers. Though they certainly benefit from it, anyone can use the lessons in life. Lloyd has a shy sister who had a hard time being in public. "It taught her tactics," Lloyd says. "She has a bigger life now."
Though the mask making is one of the more exciting courses Lloyd will teach this fall, she is also leading a number of programs for kids, including a Drama Kids program in the schools, Girls on the Move for ages 8 to 12 and an International Children's Day party on Nov. 20.
Mask Making From Within runs Oct. 5 to 26. Registration is through the SCRD recreation program at 604-885-6801.