Mask·Twelfth Night and Workshop Presented by Chung-Ang University Department of Theatre, Korea

On the evening of October 17th, the Mask · Twelfth Night by Chung-Ang University Department of Theatre, Korea was performed in Proscenium Stage Theatre in Chang Ping campus of the Central Academy of Drama. This theatre is a mask play, motion play, also a clown play. Mask is utilized as the main object for maximizing the feature of the play as a comedy and bringing out the liveliness of Twelfth Night. Moreover, motion was regarded as the important means of expression in the play. Also, the play was dramatized as a clown play that highlights clowns.

It is special in this performance that all actors were wearing different kinds of masks, making their roles more lovely and mysterious. All the masks used are highly related to the personality of the roles, for example, the mask for Andrew resembles a pig, implying his crassitude and idiotia. The use of mask not only helps the actor switching in different roles to play, but also offers a cushion when actors are expressing their feelings directly on the stage.

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Compared to original version of Twelfth Night by Shakespeare, this performance strengthened the use and the function of clowns. In the beginning of the performance, the appearance of six bouncing clowns wearing their mask made the atmosphere funny and friendly. With the plot being clarified, the clowns were serving as chorus, dance team, even the participants of the conspiracy. They also pushed the performance to a new high with the rap and hip-hop.

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The topic of love discussed in this performance could be divided in two parts. For the first, a sudden love caused by impulsion like Malvolio's reaction due to the misunderstanding of Olivia's letter, the actors used exaggerated expression and faster rhythm. While for the other, which is sincere and gradually developed like the admire of Viola to Orsino, the team chose subdued music to express the inner world of the roles. The change of expression shows respect to the story of original work, and also provides the audience with another way to understand and interpret the topic of this work.

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Besides, the stage setting and the stage properties are also characteristic. The three background panels on the stage hinted the change of relations among characters and divided the space. The actors could better express the emotion of their role with the megaphone in the corner of the stage, and interact with the audience with the help of rings, musical box, balloons, and popcorn. All these elements enriched the performance and created an atmosphere of innocence and liveliness.

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In the afternoon of October 18th, the workshop from Chung-Ang University Department of Theatre, Korea was held in the Thrust Stage Theatre in Chang Ping campus of The Central Academy of Drama by the conductor Baek Nam-Young, professor of acting.

This workshop intends to use mask as a tool for "free actor". Wearing a mask requires an actor to "transform" the movements and the sounds, ignoring the habit from daily life and to explore more possibilities. At the same time, Prof. Baek Nam-Young emphasized the body language. He argues that through the training with mask, actors could express their emotion more with sounds and movements instead of the text, which is beyond the capability of normal acting class.

In the beginning of the workshop, the conductor and his students showed the audience how we could use the masks to take "Animal Imitation". As there are great differences between the body of animal and human, it could help actors exercise the muscles ignored before, and find more possibilities in gesture speech with the use of their whole body.

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After that, the students were asked to replay two parts of their performance without the mask. We could feel the personal features brought by the actors without masks. However, when the masks were used, the character of the mask was mixed into the actors, weakening their personal features, which made their sounds and movements more coincident with the role.

After showing the effects of mask, the conductor showed the body exercise before wearing masks. 

Then he asked two students to describe what they did in the morning with sounds and movements. With the time limit shortened from 30s to 3s, the actors' movements and sounds were getting faster.

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These trainings aims at helping actors find their new situation and sounds via random stimulation and get prepared to mask training afterwards. Prof. Baek Nam-Young said, it is an actor's job to find the suitable sounds and movements for each mask. The actors need to master the features of the mask with their continuous trying so that integrate their sounds and movements with the mask.

In the end of the workshop, all audience were invited to feel the masks. The conductor encouraged everyone to explore the movements and sounds. Many students tried to use the mask under the guide of Korean students with great passion.


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