Robert Amsden, Ripon College Professor of Theatre, presented a “Mask Improvisation Workshop” at the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival, Region 3, held January 8-13, 2013 at Saginaw Valley Stage University in Saginaw, Michigan.
The workshop provided students with an introduction to mask work with beginning character masks; physical and mental centering that expands to working with movement centers; and character exploration and creation. Amsden said, “When an actor’s face is covered up with a mask the body is less restricted in its impulses. What the eye sees when the mask is donned becomes an imaginative impulse to the actor and the actor will strive to portray, that is physicalize, the image he sees in the mirror.”
One of the exercises Amsden used during the workshop was to have students wear an expressionless mask to portray “stereotypical” characters such as a wrestler, banker, construction worker, college professor, a monk or a cowboy, amongst others. “Students would quickly select a mask,” said Amsden, “go to the mirror and then they’re off to the races and characterizing. It was all pretty successful. Because these people are actors they’re inclined to absorb themselves into the fantasy”
Amsden has been involved in the KCACTF festival for almost 35 years.
To learn more about theatre at Ripon College, visit the department’s page here.