Playing with masks : an exploration of craft and performance
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Collaboration between the playwright, director, designer and technicians is the backbone of theater. Costume designers, after discussion with the director and the other designers, rely on costume technicians to realize their ideas. The technician’s hands then realize the artistic vision. But what would the technicians try if there were no constraints? I am a technician, a craftsperson who is inspired not just by the play, but also by process, by methods. With every new technique I learn, I imagine the new ways it could be put to use, and the objects I would create if time and resources were not a factor. Imagined objects are seldom created. Once made, these objects exist without a performance, without a purpose. A costume not worn is an unfulfilled destiny. But maybe the pieces I want to make can be given a narrative after the act of construction, or during construction. I’m interested in exploring my ability to be a generative artist. How can my inspiration feed back into the theater community? Can a costume technician’s experimentation have a place in creating new theater? My thesis has two components, exploring my two interests. Those two interests are the creation of objects and the creation of a story. The first component, object creation, was an exploratory study of mask and headdress making techniques. I experimented with new techniques, such as 3-D printing, testing the limitations of new technology. The second component, story creation, was a collaborative process. My collaborator, Brian Oglesby, and I worked concurrently. Brian is a playwright, and as he wrote the play, I made the objects. Our processes mirrored each other. The narrative of the play incorporated the masks and headpieces I made. This project created a theater piece based on the experimentation of a costume technician, and presents a new way for future technicians to think about their work and to have their stories told.