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 <<<