The Betty Oops masks


The masks for this show took a long time to develop. The initial Betty Oops mask was created in 1993. The first fantasy character masks were created it 1999 and the final masks were completed in 2013!

Tracey spent a long time researching the underlying ideas and themes for the Betty Oops show. The show is a complex mix of reality and fantasy. There is Betty’s world, with its day to day routines and there is the fantasy world, a world of dreams where we discover the Mother Earth, the Virgin Girl and the Amazon Warrior characters.

Tracey wanted to use two distinct types of masks to reflect these two very different worlds.

The Betty mask existed already. The mask had been created in 1993 for a short performance piece exploring the use of the naïve masks (also known as laval mask or Bale masks). This particular style, a simple white mask, was just what we needed to depict the real world in the Betty Oops show. Once this decision was made, Tracey set out to create the fantasy characters, exploring a larger style and the use of colour. Several fantasy mask characters were created and explored but Tracey was not completely happy with the results. She struggled, uncertain about her choices, in particular with the use of colour. She sought inspiration through her old teacher, Mike Chase. Tracey took part in a workshop called the Planet Masks run by Mike Chase at the Glass House Studio, Stroud, UK.

Old woman

The workshop was a real turning point for Tracey as she connected the planet idea to her fantasy characters: Saturn for the Mother Earth, Jupiter for the Virgin Girl and Mars for the Amazon Warrior. But once the new masks were created it was obvious that the style of the initial Betty mask was too different from the dream masks. A bridge was needed between the two. A new Betty mask was made.

The Betty Oops masks, like those used in The Inseparables, are full-faced helmet-style masks. These are great for adding or inventing hair or accessories. We spent a lot of time in final rehearsals deciding which colors or textures we would add to the masks, and have extended these ideas to the costumes.