How do Drama Classes provide fundamental developmental skills that our kids can’t learn from a screen?

Children in the Digital World – how Drama can provide fundamental developmental skills our kids can’t learn from a screen

By Jessica Pacecca for IntotheMask Theatre



Our children, the next generation, are growing up with tablets, iPhones, television and other electronic devices that provide instant access to anything stimulating at their fingertips.  


It’s not their fault it’s just the world we live in.  


It’s a scary prospect for parents who are bringing up children in a world saturated with digital technology; 


“How much screen time is too much?”


This is a real question we have to ask ourselves every day.  As a new parent I had been told to limit my son’s screen time. I decided to delve a little deeper into why this was, to better understand what it was about the digital material that was apparently ‘harming’ my child’s natural development. 


The theory behind the damage of digital media


Child development experts suggest that your child’s well-being, learning and development can be hindered by too muchdaily screen time.  They recommend real-life interactions in varied environmentsto better support a child’s overall social, emotional and physical development.


To read the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) on screen time follow this link:


The key thing I took from these guidelines is that 

“Too much screen time can have an impact on children’s language development and social skills.”  And that “activities including things like physical play, reading, creative play like drawing, and social time with family and friends”are what children need to aid effective development in all social and emotional areas. 



Process of Learning

The other day my 18-month old son, picked up my phone tried to open it and started dancing. He wanted me to play The Wiggles. I’ve never taught him that his music comes from my phone, he simply learnt this by observing his Mama’s everyday actions. 


This is exactly how our kids learn, by mimicking those around them. They learn to copy people and read peoples expressions, helping them to develop a level of empathy and understanding for others.  

The brain’s frontal lobe is responsible for decoding human emotions, helping humans to take in non-verbal cues: facial expressions, tone of voice, body language. It’s this corner of the mind that we should be encouraging our children to develop, which can only be done by face to face interactions with others. 


Social skills can also be actively learnt by the people surrounding the child; a parent praising the child for being kind or a teacher positively reflecting on the child’s ability to share with others.  Repeating these positive reinforcements encourages the child to not only continue doing these actions but to recognise them in others as good attributes.   


How Drama classes assist this development?


Free play – develops imagination

“Can we please play a game?” says every student the minute they walk into a Drama class.  “Yes let’s…” is always our response as little do our students know, games in Drama are actually guided platforms for them to be free and explore their imagination.  We may just be playing a game of name chase but we are getting the students thinking on their feet, building confidence, with eyes up.  It’s this skill of being open in their bodies that helps them take in facial expressions around them.

Each “game” teaches a human skill: reading the room, reading others, being aware of spacial distances and developing trustworthy relationships with other like-minded kids. Real life skills that are not taught through screens.  


Non-Verbal Interactions and Empathy

A key component of any Drama lesson is learning how to use non-verbal communicationto convey meaning for an audience.  

We explore facial expressions, gestures, posture, proxemics and get our students thinking about how even the smallest blink of an eye or raised eyebrow, can depict a certain mood or feeling to others. 


When discussing characters and asking; “How would this character feel when another character does that?” during group work, we are teaching fundamental life skills that help humans read others emotional states, and furthermore helps develop empathy. Understanding empathy in real life is something that screen time cannot provide.


Physical activity – get kids moving not just observing

Sitting behind a screen makes you stagnant, sluggish even. So, by encouraging our kids to get moving in the Drama classroom we are getting blood pumping into their little bodies and releasing some much-needed endorphins.  

It’s the release of endorphins that lifts our children’s positive outlook enabling them to tackle tasks and obstacles with their entire being. Classrooms without desks or chairs to encourage movement is especially ideal in this current climate.


Developing relationships

Increased screen time limits children’s abilities to have meaningful conversations and develop strong relationships with others. 

Drama lessons are full of group activities where students have to communicate and work together to achieve common goals.  The more these conversational skills are practiced the more confident your child becomes at using them in different social environments. Listening, negotiating, problem solving, observing, thinking critically, imagining, acting on impulse, reading body language, showing compassion, displaying kindness and respect. 


So what can we do as parents? 

As a parent myself, I know how hard it is sometimes just to get through the day.  But consider

  •  Limiting screen time and encourage storytelling at meal times– get your child understanding that screen time is a ‘sometimes’ activity.  Start asking them questions to stimulate their imagination when sitting at the table, such as, ”How do you think the cartoon you were watching was made?” “Can you come up with an alternate ending for the movie?”   

  •  Encouraging imaginary play –sit with your child, ask them questions and demonstrate how to be imaginative by showing them a different side they don’t get to see every day.

  • Encouraging your child to participate in team activities: think about activities that encourage eye contact, negotiation skills, creativity or involve constant interaction with others.  Drama class is great for this! 

  •  Regularly changing their social and physical environment –take them to different places and involve them in different activities that provide them with opportunities to interact with new people in a variety of environments. Take them to a place that you might want to learn more about too! And certainly take them to the Theatre more often!


How to Teach Commedia dell'arte to kids

Hi teachers!

Are you sick of looking through conflicting online information about Commedia dell’arte?

Don’t want to be sifting through books and watching The National Theatre clips over and over again?

Love the idea of Commedia for your students but you just don’t have the confidence to teach the archetypes?


We have created an online Web Course that take you step by step through How to teach Commedia dell’arte to your students.

In the comfort of your home or office, you can be guided from how to start introducing the concepts - to guiding your students to create commedia scenarios with ease!

Take a look at our trailer below!

And if you would like something for FREE?

Then click button below for our Full teaching Program!

5 ways to survive the Rehearsal process for kids!

So, what does a rehearsal process look like for drama students?

For a start, the student performers have script in hand, each playing a character vital to the story line. The students are taking it in turns to read their lines in their scene, exiting and entering as per stage directions.

The director or teacher is guiding the students to stand and move in certain positions on the stage and discussing character interaction. There are students who are waiting for their turn backstage or in the wings.

What does it feel like then?

It can feel mostly exciting to be able to perform on stage. It can feel challenging with all the lines to learn. It can be difficult, long, boring, repetitive to wait in the wings. It also feels great to be able to learn about presenting skills and watching others perform too.

For majority of kids, rehearsals can feel fun, exciting, a chance to discover something new, to hear and see others perform is inspiring and a learning experience. But more some, it is tedious and being patient is not their forte. So, what are some tips to help them?

Here are 5 excellent ways to help your children survive rehearsals.

1.     Be prepared and practice. Look over the script at home and practice using expressive voice and body language to present the character they are playing. Have fun with trying new ways of saying lines and actions to go with them. That way when they come into rehearsals they have something to show the director, and rehearsals won’t seem as long because they aren’t speaking the lines for the first time.

2.     Be ready. Listen intently to your director and how they are guiding everyone. Its important to stay focused and follow along with your script and pencil in hand. There might be changes and it might be your turn to enter. If you’re not ready, it makes the process slow.

3.     Be Supportive. Don’t talk throughout the rehearsals backstage or in the wings. This shows that you don’t care about your fellow actors and it’s disrespectful. The play is about everyone, not just one person. Always good to help anyone who may have forgotten a line, they can be prompted if you are listening to their scene.

4.     Be Patient. Everyone has differing abilities and everyone is on their own journey. Surviving rehearsals means that you acknowledge the differences in your class and learning to be patient.

5.     Be and effective team player. It isn’t every day that you get to work with a whole class of kids with exactly the same passion for the theatre, so imagine your class like team mates all training for the same goal. Have fun with them, talk about skills and tactics such as talking about trying something new or be spontaneous in a creative way. High fives and pats on the back of encouragement can lift spirits! Even tell the person how well they are doing, or perhaps offer some encouraging feedback quietly off stage.

It really comes down to feeling positive and being ready and prepared. Lazing around and talking while others are trying to perform just sets a negative tone and it can make others feel like you really don’t care about them. If everyone feels supported, everyone smiles and the process won’t seem so long. Please, try them out next time you are in a rehearsal!


If you have any more tips, please add them in the comments below!

THE DRAMA CLUB: Busting the myth about "games" in drama classes

We know that when we pick up our children from school or music or dance or drama classes, parents ask "so tell me what you did today?" The responses can be as dreaded as "nothing" or something simple like "we learned more of our dance" or an observation such as "someone cried in the class" or many other responses that simply leave us confused.

The one thing you do hear from drama students at pick up is "we played games" Too right you did! However, when this is the response after every week, some parents think that this is a bad thing. I can almost hear the internal conversation "I can't believe I am paying for an hour of games every week!" *insert fury here*

But, it's not what you think!

Parents, rest assured these "games" they speak of every week are full of all the things you expect to find in a game, only they are hidden deep within the laughter, and smiles and the communication that happening with other like-minded children.

It is kind of like, when you make dinner for your children and you have hidden a million vegetables in your dish and on the surface it just looks like plain bolognese sauce!

It's exactly that!

And they eat it, and you as a mum or dad feel very pleased with yourself because now at each meal time you have successfully hidden all the things that you know will build their growing little bodies! High Fives!

Each game in drama is selected to do those things too, but instead of peas and broccoli, we have inserted body awareness, eye contact, listening and speaking skills. Each specific game has it's own underlying skills hidden within it and the teacher is observing how each child responds, and thus is able to asses each ability and move onto a harder or more challenging game- likened to a more challenging vegetable such as brussel sprouts and zucchini!

We hope the next time your child comes home from dance, music or drama that you can rest assured in the knowledge that the games they play are helping them build their minds and bodies- to prepare them for the big beautiful world!


We Want You

Interested in joining us? 

GREAT! Read on... or click this link >>> here <<< if you already know what we're on about.

IntotheMask Theatre is on the hunt for an energetic creative team. As many people in our fine city already know, the long hard march towards the 2017 Perth FRINGWORLD Festival has begun, and we would like to open our doors to creative minded people of all fields for our profit share project, which we hope to tour (if it is successful at the festival). Let’s make 2017 the best year yet!

We love and use commedia dell’arte in everything we do, however we don’t expect our next team to be well trained in the form, rather we expect to train our next team. A love of craft and willingness to learn is all that matters to us. 

Who should apply I hear you screaming through your screen...

Simple, performers such as actors (obviously), but also comedians, and dancers would have skills favourable in the commedia dell’arte, although we are also interested in designers and photographers/videographers, and musicians too. A creative project is like this banana…

Totally awesome? No. Well yes, but I meant that its made up of lots of small parts that all come together to create something that’s both deliciously sweet and good for us… I wish we could say more, but the festival is under a publicity embargo so we are limited in what we can put down on the public record. Anyway, click the link, answer some questions and wait with bated breath as we reach out and hand pick the perfect team for 2017, you won't regret it.

This link right >>> here <<< it's Simply, it won't take long, I promise.

Please don't hesitate to contact us through Facebook or our email if you have any questions, it's this one right here >>> <<< Oh and one more thing… Share the link and tell your friends; IntotheMask Theatre wants you.

Here's that >>> link <<< one more time, just in case you missed it.

Movember 2015: Smashed our target!

Mo the facts:

1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 75.

On average 9 Australian men will die from prostate cancer every day.

Around 120,000 Australian men are living with prostate cancer, and is predicted to increase to 267,000 by 2017.

Oh My Gosh!!! It’s all over. We have raised an amazing $1240 for Movember. This money will go a long way it providing health and education services for men with prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health concerns. Thank you everyone that supported this campaign. It’s absolutely amazing that we smashed what was a very ambitious target, but we are sad for it to end, it has been so much fun, and very rewarding to see how much support our community have given us, and this wonderful cause. Thank you all so much. In fact, here are the thank you puns we promised.

Jane Parker, More like Parkour the way she ran and jumped at the opportunity to support such a wonderful cause. Thank you.

Amy Weston, she was not Weston on her laurels when it cam to this charity. Cheers Amy.

Tamie Dunstan, she saw Australia’s bad health stats and she said “Dun’ stan’ for this Australia” before she gave to the cause. Thanks Tamie.

Artie Bienkowski, when we saw this we said “très bien” because we thought it would be more Artie to show our gratitude in a foreign language.

Salv Russotti, his donation might just be the Salvation we need. Thanks you sir.

Sharada Angage, Singhalese names are hard to create puns with, but we will be singing his praises for a while, Thanks Sharada.

The very last of our Movember thank you puns. these are bad, I mean really bad, especially Matt's, but here goes nothing. Thanks everyone who help us smash our target. $1240 raised all thanks to these guys.

Esther Polglase, Esther another way we can say thank you, apart from this pun, I doubt it.

Jade Robinson, she must have been Robin some one to give us this money. Thanks Jade.

Mathew Gazia, Matt, phew, he came through with a donation in the last minute. Thanks buddy.

Alex Roberts, to rob hurts the soul, but to give, pleases the soul. Thanks Alex.

Anne Rouse, We managed to Rouse her into donating, thanks for the support.

Nicole Pearce, she Pearce’d our hearts with a love arrow when she donated. Thank you very much Nicole.

Denise Goodier, When we donate to charity we feel good all over, from de head, to de shoulders, to Denise and de toes. Thank you Denise.

Danielle Parker, so I said Parker, I’d rather thank her… oh that’s lame.

Matt Dreyer, So I said Dreyer, I’d rather thank her… yep, even worse the second time… Especially because Matt is clearly I guys name. Sorry Matt, and thank you for the generosity.

Shane McMullan… it’s a shame McMullan couldn’t donate more, but thanks for growing a Mo and inspiring others to give.


ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte (week 7)

And here we are for another installment of our weekly blog, welcome back 

This week we still have whole bunch of masks in development, which we will reveal very soon, lets say, next week… hopefully.

Hey don't give us that look, we are busy beavers over here, in the meantime we have actually started a Movember campaign to raise money for mens health awareness, research into prostate and testicular cancer and mental health initiatives. We have all witnessed men we care about ignore their health and wellbeing for seemingly no reason, other than not wanting to appear weak.

Or internalizing their problems due to a false sense of masculinity. 

So we have set a target to raise $1000 this Movember by getting a team together and growing out the fluffy hairs above our lips, or doing a Mo Move challenge, just a little daily exercise to support the cause. It's still early days so our moustache's look pitiful, but we have managed to raise $440

Check out our pics so far and stay up to date with the development of our facial hair, as well as our fundraising on Facebook and Instagram >>> Here and Here <<< respectively.

And support the cause at this happy little Movember link >>> Here <<<

Oh and one teeny tiny little thing to inform you about... We finally go into the rehearsal space next week!!! BOOM! thats huge, that's amazing, that's terrifying.

Make sure you come back next week to hear all about it, and see some pics of the masks and performers in action. Thank you and goodnight.

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ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte (week 6)

Welcome back!

We have been so busy here at IntotheMask Theatre this week, we've had workshops at some of our favourite school, we’ve started some mask design projects and we've had a lot going on in the Administration department. Unfortunately we have to keep most of these developments secret until things are confirmed… sorry.


If we can be completely honest we were so busy designing masks that we've missed our weekly blog deadline by about 60 minutes. So here are a few pics from our day playing with clay. Enjoy!

Yep, a very brief blog today. Just to make you feel special these pictures are for this blog only. you won't see them on Facebook or Instagram.

So I guess you will have to share this blog if you think someone you know might like them.

Thank you for checking us out for another week. See you same time, same place in another 7 days.

ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte (week 5)

Welcome back, and thank you for joining us for our next instalment. Last week we talked about the mask making process, and our educational trip to Italy. This week however, we are going to explore a more contemporary mask making technique, developed by Shane, our resident mask maker. It enables us to mold leather in the traditional style, but the matrix, usually made of wood, is simplified with clay and chemistry.

Let's explore this new technique by breaking it down into 5 steps.

Firstly we design the mask out of clay, we use California W.E.D because Shane is a giant nerd and wants to pay more money for an international clay that was sourced, used by and named after a guy called Walt E. Disney (you may have heard of him), but technically we could use any clay, the difference in quality doesn’t have any impact on our process.


Secondly, we built a silicon mold over the clay, this usually takes 6-8 layers of very thin silicon, strengthened by a layer of fabric. Ignore that piece of wood for now, we will explain that in a moment.

Next we use some plaster of Paris, this is going to create a cradle for the mold to sit in, otherwise it would lose its shape completely due to the viscosity of the silicon. The shapes of the design can create problems with separating the plaster and the matrix to come, therefor, once the plaster has set it needs to be gently broken into 2 or 3 pieces.

Fourth step Takes place after everything has set, been separated, cleaned and dried. We use an epoxy resin to recreate what we had in clay in plastic. So that we can still use the sealing technique learnt from Antonio Fava we must also include a wooden backing as part of this process. We have incorporated the wood in the first stages with clay, and have cemented it into place using some of the left over plaster. It's a little uglier than we would like, heavier than wood and more blocky than full carved wood, but it will do nicely.

If you missed last weeks blog and you want to compare the two, not to worry, you can do so by clicking >>> here <<< but let's have a look at the wooden matrix now so you can see how they shape up next to each other.

There are a lot of similarities with the end product. Even though the design process was easier in clay than carving wood, it is worth noting that it is still time consuming because it involves much more wait time, and is a little more expensive because it requires so many more materials that are more costly than a simple wooden block. The real benefit of this new process is the flexibility it has given us in our design options. We can try a number of different expressions, changing it three dimensionally until we are happy. Wood techniques require you to draw the idea on paper, exploring those differences until you are happy, but you never see it three dimensionally until you carve it, and if it doesn’t look right you have wasted 30-40 hours of intensive work. The time cost is mitigated when you create multiple masks at a time, which you simply cannot do with wood.

The fifth and final step is to mold the leather in the same style as the Fava method. We apologise for being so selective with the pictures below but as we explained last week, we do not want to reveal to much of the Fava method. I hope you can appreciate that decision.

We would love to show you the end result but unfortunately this is where we are up too in the process. But we will keep you updated on this masks and all the others we create in the coming weeks.

What do you think of our design for the Pantalone x Cyclops? Let us know in the comment box below, or on our social media, such as Facebook >>> here <<<., or Instagram >>> here <<<. and if you missed the weekly instalment which covered this character you can go back and check it out >>> here <<<.

See you same time next week.

ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte (week 4)

Our journey of mask making has been an interesting one.

When the company was founded we survived by buying masks and importing them from Italy, the greatest masks came from our teacher, and commedia dell’arte master, Antonio Fava. Fava’s masks are amazing, but they are expensive, other masks in Italy are much more affordable, but not nearly as dynamic, they are great for hanging from walls, but they aren’t necessarily design for performance the same way a Fava mask is, they don’t fit the face as seamlessly, they don’t angle perfectly for stage lights to illuminate the eyes, and they don’t have the individual characterisation of a Fava mask.

Once our company's early days were behind us it became very clear that we should be making our own masks, designed to fit our faces, designed to have the exact characterisation we needed for the show we were creating. The only problem; no one in Perth was making masks at the standard of Fava, no one could teach us the craft in the same way as Fava.

Yeah that picture above is pretty much how we felt, because we new we had to go to the source, to take part in one of Antonio Fava’s annual Mask making workshops, on the other side of the world... And where we are from money does not flow so freely in the arts sector.

***Not a factual representation of our company's cash flow, however that is the actual expression on our accountants face when we tried to explain why we had to send someone to Italy***

The photo’s below show our resident mask maker's progress while learning the traditional techniques from Antonio Fava, originally taught to him by his father as it has been past down from generation to generation. This process involves carving wood, then molding a single piece of leather over the wood, and sealing it into shape. click through the gallery and check it out.

***We have decided not to publish the specifics of the technique, as they are not our own, sorry***

Below is the creative process of the original Stephanie mask, mentioned a few weeks ago here, Enjoy!

We are currently in the process of designing and making the masks for our latest show (which we have to keep secret for now, damn non-disclosure agreements!!!). Usually we only have to make 1 or 2 masks, which we fit into the ensemble of masks we already own, this means that the style has to be compatible with the masks we have already decided to use. However, this time we are designing all new masks for the one show means that we have to ability to be fluid in the design process. We are able to create something completely new, challenging traditional design conventions and use techniques, which we have never used before.

Sorry baby sloth, more on that next week. Goodbye for now. 

Let us know what you think about our mask making pics below, on our Facebook page >>> here <<< or even on our Instagram >>> here <<<


ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte (week 3)

Here we are, back again for the third time, thank you so much for clicking and reading or subscribing or following our social media accounts, or doing whatever you did to end up here. We love to share our craft and our passion for masked theatre with everyone so we really appreciate your eyeballs landing on our words and pictures today.

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It’s time to get stuck into a subject that everyone loves, a subject that is crucial to all storytelling, but especially commedia dell’arte, it’s time to talk about… drum roll please...


One of the longest standing comic archetypes from the commedia dell’arte is of course Pantalone, the miser, the master, the original merchant of Venice. Despite his selfish, greedy, impersonal approach to life, love and family, there’s a lot to love about the character. Maybe he reminds us of ourselves at our worst, or perhaps reminds us that no matter how bad we can be from time to time, our intentions are pure (especially when compared to him). He is like a crazy grandfather who says things we don’t agree with and hold values that are outdated, but somehow it seems understandable coming from him, it’s endearing, it’s a part of our social past that we respect and enjoy even at the worst of times.

Like all Characters in the commedia dell’arte, Pantalone has a stance, his own system of moving, and a number of classic lazzi (comic routine) that audiences have loved for dozens of generations. So, lets have a quick GIF Guide to Pantalone's skeleton.

Pantalone front.gif

Firstly, move your feet in at the ankles and toes, a small stance and a small gait are required.

Secondly bend slightly at the knees (but never so much that your knee’s are past your toes, that can damage/age your knee’s)

Next you will role your hips forward as well as your shoulders. This is the most important part to remember, you create a hump back illusion, NOT DAMAGE YOUR SPINE SO THAT YOU DEVELOP A HUMP BACK!!! You will see when I turn to the side that my centre of gravity is situated entirely vertical and above my legs, I have no unhealthy pressure or strain on my SPINE or BACK MUSCLES.

Lastly, you stick your head forward like a turtle man.

He can be seen in literature dating back hundreds of years, and in modern forms of story telling story telling from just last week. His desire for money, and his willingness to cheat the system are universally accepted in comedy and drama. So lets have a look at some examples.

Even Shakespeares characters, while not physically played as Comic archetypes, were still built around the psychological and relationship traits of the comic archetypes. Take Lord Capulet for example, a man who does not see his daughters marriage as an expression of her love, but rather an opportunity to strengthen his ties and relationships to those important to him.

Lord Capulet - Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet

Lord Capulet - Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet

As mentioned in our last blog, we will be combining the Traditional archetypes with the Greek mythological creatures, therefor the rules which will govern Pantalone’s physicality must alter greatly to fit the dynamics imposed by the Cyclops. Pantalone is a character who has aged, his body has shrunk and his mobility is limited, how does this shape change when it is now filtered through the flesh and blood of a giant brute creature? Imagine how a great warrior must look once old age has scrapped him of his former glory, how the attitude of greatness and strengths remains long after the fact. Our ‘Pantalone x Cyclops’ will be the beastly equivalent of a soldier turned politician, mixed with the misery of an over thrown pack leader in a lion pride, who still has the ambition for power.

We will look more closely at the Cyclops and his physicality in the coming weeks, but for now, we need to capture the energy and attitude of our character, which is more man than myth, even though on the outside it is clearly a Monster.

Yeah, just of like the characters from Monsters Inc… only completely different.

Okay, lets wrap things up now with another offer to check us out on our social media pages if you haven't done so already. Facebook is >>> HERE <<< and Instagram in >>> HERE <<< 

Thank you and goodbye.

That's you, looking sad because this is goodbye... Until next week!

ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte (week 2)

Welcome Back, and thank you so much for joining us again! If you are joining us for the first time than that pleasant welcome is not for you, YOU ARE LATE! And we will be calling your parents; in our internet there will be no excuses for tardiness. 

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Just kidding (insert jovial laughter here)

We’re sure you would like to know more about the show we will be creating, it’s influences, it’s style, it’s characters and enough about the story to intrigue you, but not so much that we ruin the experience for the audience. Well it is with great honour that we… Postpone that information for a little detour (hahaha) to tell you about a character from our last show. This character was a fan favourite, and is the biggest influence in what we are doing next. That’s not to say this is a sequel… but if you get a chance to see our last show ‘A Midsummer Knight’sDream… What?!’ do it.

Please note, the next paragraph (and point number 1) is a spoiler of this character’s journey, but not of the show as a whole… I’ll leave it up to you whether you read it or not)

The Character in question: A Cyclops; transported from the mythical realm to an enchanted forest here on Earth, a character whom everybody believed to be a mindless beast, a killing machine, and (probably) a man. The character of Stephanie was anything but, she was a misunderstood lovelorn monster, sweet and caring, with a voice so rough it could froth the milk in your cappuccino… but sweet and caring nevertheless.

That’s her above, isn't she adorable?

The big question though, What made to character of Stephanie so popular amongst the hundreds of audience members? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but I think it comes down to a few factors.

1: The audience judged her prematurely, they were lead into a false sense of understanding, they assumed they knew the characters of this story, they thought it was a simple traditional theatre piece, with predetermined classic characters. But this was nothing more than the theatrical art of misdirection, and the revelation that Stephanie was not a mindless beast was the first time the traditions were challenged (but not the last). They might have been suffering from a little guilt for their judgment, and the guilt soon transformed into love.

2: The character was created with a voice that is reminiscent of a Jim Henson puppet. It may have felt like a throw back the their childhood, combining the audio qualities of the beloved characters Animal and Dr. Teeth, with a little Gonzo to top it off and hit the sweeter, sympathetic moments.

3: The mask played a huge part in our promotional strategy, for any audience member who saw us sprooking the show around the Fringe Festival grounds, they would have seen our resident mask maker out in public, making a second Stephanie masks, explaining the process, and demonstrating the way we mold the leather. Not to mention the updates on social media, with pics ranging from a clay design, to a wooden block, and finally a single piece of leather stretched, shaped and sealed into the end result.

Perhaps it’s a perfect blend of these factors that made Stephanie so popular, but at the end of the day what matters moving forward is how that love has influenced our next piece. Strictly speaking, the character of Stephanie will not be returning (sorry to burst your bubble). We have decided that we would like to explore the world she comes from, the world of the Cyclopes, the mythical realm. To do this we are going to follow the Corning folk archetype of Jack, up the beanstalk and into a world full of Cyclopes (rather than the giants).

In the traditional commedia dell’arte there is really only one archetype for the Cyclops, which was created out of the ancient Greek mythology of the dim witted, slow moving but incredibly powerful, hungry, deadly beast. But for this show we cannot have a world with only one character type, so we are going to try something very different… very different indeed…



We are going to combine different classic comedy archetypes with physicality and personality traits of the Cyclops to create a handful of brand new characters, each with their own mask, their own system of moving and their own comic lazzi. Something never before seen, never before created. After 500 years of commedia dell’arte history, we will be proud parents of new characters.

Barnie yay.gif

We hope the gravity of this moment and revelation is hitting our readers, it’s very ambitious and incredible exciting!!! Tune in next week to hear more about our development. let us leave you with a question.

What do you think about our idea to use 'Jack and the Beanstalk' to explore new these characters? answer in the comment box below, or on our Facebook page.



ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte

Welcome to the very first entry of Intothemask Theatre’s process blog. We look forward to posting each and every week, sharing our journey and our craft with our long standing fans, and any newcomers who join us along the way.

For those who are new, let us start by introducing ourselves, IntotheMask Theatre are (as the name suggests) masked theatre specialists, with a passion for commedia dell’arte. It may be considered a dead art form (hence the title of this blog), but our love is so great that we are the proverbial life support machine, keeping the pulse pumping and the laughter coming. As the blog moves forward we will share our back-story, and give you some member bio’s here or there, so don’t worry if that felt a too vague, think of it as a teaser trailer for the undeniable epic this blog will become… (wishful thinking hahaha).


We should introduce the Perth FRINGEWORLD Festival for our fans outside of Australia…


Hey don’t pull that face, we have fans outside of Australia, as I was saying, for our fans outside of Australia we should explain the advent of the Perth FRINGEWORLD Festival. Let’s get in the ‘Time and Space Machine’ (we decided to trademark it because it was such a creative name) and go way, WAY, WAAAAAAAAY back to 2011. A small group of Art Rage personnel decided to curate a fun and fresh event, with a few funky shows and see if they could drum up some interest in the independent art scene. Because it was on at the same time at the Perth International Art Festival they called it a 'Fringe' festival (like many others around the world had done before them). Well it was quite popular, and in 2012 they had a few hundred artists asking to get involved, WOW! (Not world of Warcraft, the other wow, they one that expresses excitement). Oh yeah, we were one of those groups that jumped on the band wagon in 2012, I wish I could say that we were on the ground floor, but alas, we were not. Fast forward a couple of years to 2014 and the Perth FRINGE WORLD Festival had become the 4th largest Fringe festival in the world, Edinburgh is 1st, Adelaide 2nd, Brighton 3rd, and then little old Perth, out of nowhere , BOOM! 4th. FOURTH!!! How wonderful are the people of our city, to support the arts as strongly as they do. It is truly a blessing that we will never take for granted. *End time travel*

Now its mid 2015 and the artists around Perth are all abuzz, as we prepare for the 2016 FRINGE WORLD Festival, hoping to create the next big thing, hoping that one of our audience members will be a reviewer with a smile, a producer from out of town, or at least a new fan who will join our mailing list, or follow our social media pages. (Which of course you can do right now, by clicking >>> here <<< for Facebook, or >>> here <<< for Instagram. Yeah, you know you want to!!!

So we look forward to you joining us each and every week on our journey as we bring back the highly physical, and hi-larious art for of the Commedia dell'Arte and create something special for you, and Perth, and the people of the world (because world domination has always been the goal mwahahahahaha).


Hmmm… perhaps we have said to much, it’s probably best to ignore that part about world domination.

Let’s wrap up our very first blog with a few simple questions. What has been your experience with the Perth FRINGEWORLD Festival so far? Did you manage to see anything in the inaugural season in 2011? If so, wanna tell us about it?