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I love Masks and over the past 35 years have built up a large collection. The ones I use in the workshops all come from Java and Bali.  

The workshop usually begins with the Javanese masks, which were all carved by a master mask-maker, Pak Ledjar from Yoygyakarta, whom I discovered by accident riding in a becak one day in 1979. They are all full-face masks, unpainted but incredibly expressive.  Full-face masks are slower than their half-face counterparts; being silent, they force the young actor to use their body (not just gesture) to expression their thoughts, feelings and intentions. In the classroom, a second actor sometimes voices the inner monologue of the Mask.

The half-face masks from Bali share a lot of similarities with the Italian commedia dell’arte, and thanks to my work for more than 20 years with Marco Luly and Christina Sergeant, I delight in helping students create their own comical scenes and lazzi (routines).

The full-face Masks draw good work from upper primary pupils as well as teenagers (from secondary through to JC/ITE).  Adults too, as my work at Tanah Merah Prison shows, also find them stimulating and a surprisingly rewarding experience.

Mask workshop

Enquiry Students talk about Masks My masks on tv!

You do not wear the Mask. The Mask wears you  - Marco Luly

March 21/2017:  Performing with MARIO PIROVANO and MARCO LULY ar the Republic Polytechnic in a programme of commedia dellárte scenes, lazzi and a story from Darion Fo’s Mistero Buffo performed by Mario.  

In his solo show, Mario presented four scenes from Mistero Buffo, which were a masterclass in theatrical storytelling – highly physical and comedic performances with plenty of direct address to the audience.  The story of Lazarus Resurrection is a wonderful example of re- telling a well-known story from the point of view of an imagined character - in this case, a mendacious wheeler-dealer of a caretaker managing the cemetery where Lazurus is buried, charging the curious crowds coming to see if the magician (Jesus) can actually raise the long-dead man.  Mario’s telling vividly brings this earthy, bawdy, disbelieving, gambling man to life