Introduction to Mask - DRAM3400

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The aim of this course is to give students an understanding of a variety of practices, theory and historical context of mask in performance. By learning about different mask practices the students will develop a sense of the function and potential of mask in performance and performer training, as well as develop their own performance skills through the medium of mask
The module will be taught across twelve weeks and will be split evenly between history/theory and practice.
Practical classes will include instruction in diverse practical approaches to improvisation, mask work, rehearsal technique and supervised rehearsals. Students will be invited to explore beyond their assumptions and performance experience and will be introduced to the idea of play and risk as key components of the rehearsal process. Students will be introduced to a range of mask and associated techniques (e.g. neutral/noble mask, character mask, commedia). Sessions will start with appropriate physical and vocal warm-ups. Students are expected to take responsibility for their physical readiness to participate in all classes (and to ensure that they bring to their teacher's attention any circumstances that may prevent their full and active involvement in the work). Regular opportunities to present work and demonstrate understanding are built into the structure of the class. They will also reflect and feedback on the work of their peers.
Lecture/screening sessions will feature presentations, interactive lectures, screenings and opportunities for discussion. These sessions will focus on developing an awareness of key practitioners, theories of mask, and historical, cultural and theatrical contexts of mask work.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 48
Private study hours: 252
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Group Performance (40%)
Critical reflection (1500 words) (25%)
Essay (2500 words) (35%).

Indicative reading

Allain, Paul and Jen Harvie (2006) The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance. London: Routledge
Banham, Martin (ed.) (2004) A history of theatre in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Callery, Dymphna (2001) Through the Body: a practical guide to physical theatre. London: Nick Hern Books
Eldredge, Sears A. (1996) Mask improvisation for actor training and performance: The compelling image. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press
Emigh, John (1996) Masked Performance: The play of self and other in ritual and theatre. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press
Wilsher, Toby (2006) The Mask Handbook: A Practical Guide. United Kingdom: Taylor and Francis

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Demonstrate an understanding of some key approaches to mask theatre
Demonstrate practical understanding of mask-making
Show a foundation in mask and improvisation performance and rehearsal skills
Communicate an understanding of the role of masks in performer training
Demonstrate knowledge and practical understanding of some forms of Western mask theatre (e.g.Neutral Mask, Character Mask, Commedia) and deepened awareness of some ancient and non-Western mask theatre traditions (e.g. Noh, Jingju)
Communicate an understanding of key concepts in the role of masks in ceremonies and religious ritual in various cultural traditions (e.g.Sub-Saharan African mask, Indigenous Australian mask) and a knowledge of some key past and contemporary mask pedagogues and practitioners/companies (e.g. Copeau, Saint-Denis, Fava, Le Coq, Trestle)


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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