About our masks

For us, our masks are alive with possibilities. Once created (and we feel they have a say in their own creation!) we live with them, we try to get to know them, explore their potential. Some masks are easy to get to know, as are some people and others are closed and resistant to prying.

A good mask has multiple possibilities. It can be male or female, old or young. The Granny Smith maskis a great example of this.


I came to mask making quite quickly, initially due to the costs involved in buying masks but once I started making my own, I just got hooked! I began by making half-face masks in the classic traditions of the Commedia dell’Arte, as taught by my teachers: Mike Chase and Donato Sartori. As time went by, I felt the need to develop my own style.

Tracey Boot


Tracey usually starts her mask making with an idea of the show and the characters she will need to create that show. Then come a few sketches, and she may play around with small clay faces or use key words and colours for inspiration. The initial creative process, the actual design of the mask, can be long or short, there are no rules when it comes to inspiration! Once the mask is ready it will go into the studio with the actors. In that work space, the mask character starts to unfold.

 
 


In the studio lots of funny and less funny things happen. The time we actually spend in the studio, developing a masked character, varies from project to project. The Granny Smith mask was very quick to develop, as the mask had already been explored through One More Time and Mascarade. When it’s a new mask, one fresh from the mould, the process will be a little longer.


 Tracey usually starts her mask making with an idea of the show and the characters she will need to create that show. Then come a few sketches, and she may play around with small clay faces or use key words and colours for inspiration. The initial creative process, the actual design of the mask, can be long or short, there are no rules when it comes to inspiration! Once the mask is ready it will go into the studio with the actors. In that work space, the mask character starts to unfold.


Some times the mask doesn’t suit the play: this was the case for The Betty Oops masks, so we made and remade the masks until we were happy with the results. At other times we might keep the masks and change the play, as for the C’est La Vie masks in 1996 (almost entirely created from and around the characters, their improvisations and the relationships that grew between the characters). There was a dominant theme, or thread, throughout the C’est La Vie show but it was definitely character-led. The Inseparables masks were a mix of all of the above.


Tracey has been making and learning about masks for 25 years. She generously shares this knowledge and expertise with other professionals, or people starting out as mask-makers or performers, at one of her professional development sessions in Chambéry.

 
Contact