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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: May ::
Comment: SHK 5.038
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0396.  Thursday, 5  May 1994.
 
(1)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Wednesday, 04 May 1994 11:42 ET
        Subj:   Masks
 
(2)     From:   William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Wednesday, 04 May 1994 17:20:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0390  Re: Masks
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Wednesday, 04 May 1994 11:42 ET
Subject:        Masks
 
No reason why masks should be regarded differently from any other physical
element of dramatic production--sets, costumes, lights, space.  It's always
going to depend on how good they are, how well they're used, how fully the
particular advantages and limitations they offer cooperate with all the other
theatrical decisions, about text choice, cuts, casting, pace. . . .For modern
audiences, it would seem to make best sense to use them in plays where
questions of identity and role are most urgent--I can imagine them working
wonderfully in <Richard II> or <Troilus and Cressida>.  But of course
questions of identity and role are pretty ubiquitous in this oeuvre.  Early
modern spectactors would have been familiar with masks at both ends of the
social spectrum--commedia and jig, in popular entertainment, the masque for
aristocrats; hence, I suppose, the readiness with which they are used in <LLL>
and <MND>.  As I write this I am suddenly wrestling (not, to be honest, all
that strenuously) with the semiotics of a masked production of one of those
plays in which the actors appear with naked faces in the masking scenes.  In
those scenes, of course, the masks serve to conceal the maskers from
themselves but not from the onlookers, a point which seems to me entirely
relevant to the question whether they can appropriately be used in
contemporary productions. So I say plunge in, have a splash, and report to us
on what happens.
 
                                                      David Evett
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Wednesday, 04 May 1994 17:20:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0390  Re: Masks
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0390  Re: Masks
 
Skip Shand's question about masks interests me. I've noticed recently in
Victorian literature (or "texts" if you please) that the characters will now
and again appeared masked -- without any apparent incongruity. And I began
thinking about Renaissance masking. Of course, we know that ladies masked in
the sun to keep their complexions nice and white. (Did women who weren't
"ladies" mask in the sun? I don't know.) And we know about the tradition of
masking/masquing. How wide spread was the practice of masking? And what did it
"mean"?
 
I don't have any answers; I'm just curious.
 
Curious Bill Godshalk
 

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