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617 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701 Map

(512) H-I-D-E-O-U-T

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Trance Masks


Trance masks are possibly one of the most fascinating and bizarre techniques to emerge from the last 50 years of improv theory and practice, and we couldn’t be more excited to one of the most prominent European practitioners of the trance mask tradition coming to Austin in August for a full day of mask work. DO NOT MISS THIS. Who knows when we’ll be able to make it happen again.

Do to low enrollment, we’re rolling the Saturday workshop into Sunday, so this Trance Mask workshop is ONLY ON SUNDAY NOW.

Sunday Session – Trance Masks: Jumping in and Going Deeper

August 13, 10am-5pm (with an hour for lunch) $90 ($75 for Summer Intensive students)

This class is an introduction to the trance mask technique. More than anything, this means a bunch of chances to try it out for yourself. Between the masks we will work with our bodies, faces and voices to prepare ourselves and also discover tricks to bring some of that mask feeling into our normal improv.

Wearing a trance mask (and allowing yourself to “become” the creature you see in the mirror) is a powerful way to unlock creativity and to discover how to be expressive without effort, letting go of the pressure to “create” as we let the mask lead us. This tradition originated in Keith Johnstone’s work, then refined by Steve Jarand of the Loose Moose Theatre, and now is proliferating especially through a European network.

In this workshop we’re also welcoming folks who have mask experience, including those who work with a mask of their own. We’ll use the time together to explore more their personalities, as well as their potential for performing – texts, recitals, and scenes. Newcomers will also find much in this class too – but there will be a bit more focus on teasing out the potentials of masks, and somewhat less on repeated “tries.”

$90 / 6 hours total on Sunday / Limited Space / **Class held at Hideout Studios (2505 E 6th St, Unit C)

More about Trance Masks:

The Trance Mask (half mask) technique was developed by Keith Johnstone at the Royal Court Theatre in London and later perfected at Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary, Canada. Keith combined his observation of shamanic ceremonies in Africa with mid-twentieth century theater’s most well-known mask techniques to create an improvisational tool for generating primal and authentic characters that live fully in the moment and are fascinating to watch do just about anything.

The Trance Mask covers only the top part of the face leaving the mouth free, since sound is one of the central tools used to activate the mask. There are no fixed characters (unlike Commedia dell’arte). Whatever emerges from the encounter between the mask and its wearer, if powerful and pure enough, is the starting point from which a character can be developed. This process may bring to mind the development of a little child as he discovers how to speak and relate with the world and different experiences.

Over the course of two days workshop participants will be introduced to the basics of Trance Masks. They will have many opportunities to try on masks and generate characters in the moment, and eventually work on cultivating those characters into more and more advanced interactions. And while trance mask work has historically been more of a training tool, one of the purposes of this particular workshop is to explore possibilities for the masks to set foot upon the stage.