Stage performance allows a unique connection with an audience. So how do you connect with an audience, silently, with a full mask covering your face? How do you connect with other actors or your props on the stage when you can barely see?
I found out how to do both of these things and more recently when I was invited to Vamos Theatre’s two-day workshop at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. I consider myself a complete novice when it comes to full mask – I have experience, but no training as such. As Vamos put it themselves, it seems to be a dying art; something that not many actors are truly skilled or trained in. I’d previously undertaken an incredible and obscure two-day workshop at MAC Birmingham years ago with performer and curator Dickie Beau. Contrastingly, Vamos has a performance style that is very naturalistic even though the faces have a caricature quality and of course the characters have no dialogue. This introduces the opportunity for comedy, which is a blessing because the themes Vamos explore aren’t for the faint hearted and recent shows revolve around dementia and PTSD. I love the real issues Vamos present and I know that they are a leading mask company in the UK. I’ve been hoping to learn from them for some time, so was really privileged to be on board. As a Birmingham based actress, it’s particularly wonderful to work with such a local company, as acting work often demands considerable travelling.
I’ve learnt some wonderful tips and techniques from Vamos, such as:
- clocking the audience
- being mindful of pace
- showing the internal monologue of the character with their action
- building a character from scratch, developing naturalistic gestures/habits
- working to music but avoiding musicality/ dance
- working with choreography
It really was a pleasure and I hope to have the opportunity to work with or for Vamos again in the not too distant future.