After working as mask designer for Cornell’s 2012 production of Romeo and Juliet, I was inspired to make an in-depth study of mask making techniques in the Italian Commedia dell’Arte.
The Commedia dell arte style of theatre and its mask use were the product of gradual development and the need for a popular, accessible form of entertainment. Each mask embodies a unique character archetype, which reflects the socio-economic environment of the time. My poster presentation will include a discussion of the historical development of the Commedia dell’Arte, the historical use of masks in the production of theatre, and their cultural significance.
The main body of my poster will detail the process of designing and creating leather masks based on my research of traditional Italian mask making. First, I will design masks with features carefully exaggerated to represent distinct personalities. Most masks will be based on traditional archetypes, but one will be based on modern character types. The designs will be sculpted in clay onto a plaster life mask of the actor. The form is then transferred to a wooden block, using calipers and carving tools. Working, dying, and sealing the leather requires multiple steps. The ultimate products of my project will be several unique leather masks.
My goal is to demonstrate how the compilation and study of historical research, and the detailed analysis of character can be applied to the construction of masks for current theatre productions.
Anastasia Sledgianowski, ’14
Colorado Springs, CO
Majors: Theatre, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Sponsor: Janeve West