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2 July, 2011  → 17 July, 2011 - Boulder, COLORADO, USA

The Journey of the Actor in the world of Masks




This training proposes a journey in the essence of Theatre Masks.
Masks belong to the world of archetypes and have been present in the history of humanity since the beginning. Essential elements of Ancient Theatre, glorious protagonists in the Golden Age of Commedia dell’Arte in 16th and 17th century, they have been brought back to theatre during the renaissance of physical theatre throughout the whole 1900, and today they represent a key step in the training of the physical actor-creator.

Through covering the facial expressions of the actor, the Mask forces her/him to go back to the roots of her/his own presence in space. Gestures have to be amplified, and everything is brought back to the body, thus giving the actor a complete new sense of space, presence and dramatic expression.

Analysis of Movements and Improvisation are the two tracks on which the teaching evolves, giving the students the physical awareness and the skills to explore the world of masks on stage. Mask playing combines strong emotional awareness and a powerful body alertness, with a rigorous technique of articulation of the body into dramatic attitudes.
It becomes an amazing training for any theatre artist, because it prepares the work on characters, which is the basis for all theatre genres.











The journey starts with the Neutral Mask, a key moment of the whole Movement Theatre experience. It’s a mask that doesn’t have any dramatic expression, and allows the actor to explore a state of pure presence, in the here and now of space.
With this mask the actor explores the state of neutrality that exists before the action. The Neutral Mask has no memory and no projects, it lives in the present, and allows the actor to discover the difference between movement and drama. To explore the fluidity of the body and the essence of human gestures.
The Neutral Mask gives the actor the awareness of the natural "drama" that is present in her/his body and that tends to become a form of character or style. By unfolding these physical "background noises" the body reaches a state of silence and presence, available to the theatrical space.
Once the actor has discovered this space, s/he becomes like “a white page, ready to be written on in the future dramas“ (Jacques Lecoq).






Once s/he has touched the referential state of the neutrality, the actor is ready to start exploring the forms of human characters, and s/he meets the Larval Masks. These very simple and essential masks come from a very ancient Carnival Tradition of the city of Basel, in Switzerland.
They have been brought to theatre by Jacques Lecoq, who discovered their pedagogical value in the physical training of the actor. They are big masks, with very simple shapes, that suggest an expression (pointed, tall, narrow, pear-shaped ) while never fully defining the features of a human face. They announce the lines that will lead to a specific character, but they don’t define it yet. They are open and available to the space, and need big gestures to make them come to life.
In the world of larval masks everything is at the edge of beginning and the actor can search in different directions:
- to simplify and amplify gestures,
- to explore the mask as a moving structure in the space, with forms, trajectories, dynamic oppositions and to find the body who can reveal it,
- to explore the animalistic and fantastic dimension of the mask.







These unique masks, created by italian maskmaker Matteo Destro, propose primary human characters, very simple and very defined. Each one of them, like a musical note, moves on one dominant dynamic in space. They bring us to a state of extreme naivete, teaching the actor how to enter in resonance with a human character. In the eyes of these masks the world appears as an immense event, in which awe, astonishment and basic emotions take over intelligence and understanding.
The uncovering of the mouth frees the voice of the actor, allowing the exploration of different sounds, rythms and the beginning of words (grammelot) .






Emerged from the archetypes of Italian Comedy (Commedia dell’Arte), half masks are a phenomenal instrument for playing. They introduce the actor to a precise physical definition of a character. They are very defined forms, where the larval movements have developed into a more complex structure. The main dynamic of the characters appears, as well as his opposite aspects, the so called counter-mask. In this style the actor is faced not only with the mask as a character, but also with a high level of playing, brought by the depth of human archetypes. These masks play in a world of survival, where passions, urgencies and human behaviour are pushed to a permanent extreme. Half masks have a specific tragic depth and can bring the actor to a very high level of poetic transposition, where laughter and crying are intertwined.

Improvisation skills and a play based of the constant unfolding of a comic theme, train the actor both to enjoy a very physical and rhythmical playing while developing the sense of playwriting and dramatic crescendo.
This incredibly vital style teaches the actor to truly experience what improvisation means, and how theatre can represent the wonderful madness of human beings, in a jubilation of rigorous fun.






The training culminates with the exploration of Commedia dell’Arte, the traditional Italian Comedy.
The characters, transposed by masks into particular types, require from the performer a level of play where the body is fully engaged, alive and always playful, thus revealing the poetry of survival.
The playing of the actor is rigorously framed by a scenario and by precise improvisation rules. Through the exploration of the types of Traditional Commedia, the work will touch some of the traditional scenarios and the rules of Improvvisazione: lazzi and “botta e risposta” (action and reaction), crescendo, pace and rythme, development  and  variation, climax and finale.

Commedia allows the actor to fully develop a creative, intuitive, highly visual and extremely physical style of performance. For these reasons Commedia dell’Arte is a physical celebration of rhythm, attitudes and improvisational madness.


During this training participants will use:

Neutral Masks by Donato Sartori, Abano Terme, Italy.
Traditional White Larval Mask, by Herr Zing, Basel, Switzerland.
Primary Masks by Matteo Destro, Padova Italy.
Expressive Half Masks by Matteo Destro, Padova Italy.
Commedia dell'Arte Masks by Stefano Perocco di Meduna, Italy.




The training will start on Saturday July 2nd and end on Sunday July 17th.
Each day includes 6 hours of Master Classes.
The lacation of teh training is the BOULDER CIRCUS CENTER

Master Classes include:
Movement Analysis and Movement Technique

Detailed Schedule

Saturday July 2nd: 4 pm to 10 pm. Orientation and registration at 3pm
Sunday 3rd:1 to 7 pm
Monday 4th: 10 to 4 pm
Tuesday 5th: : 11 to 5 pm
Wednesday 6th: day off
Thursday 7th: 11 to 5 pm
Friday 8th: 10 to 4 pm
Saturday 9th: 4 to 10 pm
Sunday 10th: 12 to 6 pm
Monday 11th: 11 to 5 pm
Tuesday 12th: day off
Wednesday 13th: 10 to 4 pm
Thursday 14th: 11 to 5 pm
Friday 15th: 10 to 4 pm
Saturday 16th: 10 to 4 pm
Sunday 17th: 10 to 5 pm





The training  addresses to professional theater artists wishing to develop their skills, to artists with  performing experience (theatre, circus, dance, music, etc. ) interested in movement theater, to theater students and to drama teachers wanting to further their experience with Masks.

It is a training based on generosity and commitment, and the desire of turning one‘s own most genuine humanity and folly into playing.

To apply to the Mask Training, please email a CV (Resume) with artistic experiences and a letter of motivation.
The letter must include the following themes:
    -how did you come to know about this work?
    -what is your experience with movement-based theatre?
    -what is your previous experience with masks?
    -for what purpose do you apply for this program?




Giovanni will  choose students from the applications received, forming the group.
If the student's application is accepted, s/he will be given a spot in the class, in the order the application was received.

Once Giovanni has selected 20 students, the workshop is full, and a waiting list will be created.  Please note that this workshop tends to fill up fairly quickly so if you intend to participate, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

To confirm the enrollment, a deposit of US$500.00 is due.
Please note: the deposit is non-refundable. 

The number of students is limited to 20.


US $1,300.00

A discounted total tuition fee is available for participants who enroll in both workshops: THE JOURNEY OF MASKS + THE RED NOSE

Please note that tuition does not include accommodation and that participants will be responsible for organizing their staying in Boulder. However, the organization will provide a list of local contacts for affordable accommodation.

The official languages of the workshop are English. A basic understanding is required.



For any questions regarding the pedagogical content please contact:

 Giovanni Fusetti 


If you are interested in attending the workshop, please contact

Elizabeth Baron 


Design & programming : DomRadisson.net