Playing Masks and Physical Comedy
A Double asterisk ** means the book is readily available in most libraries AND through
Barnesandnobles.com and Amazon.com
Books without asterisks may be more difficult to locate. A good university library should
have most of these listed.
Aside from the books listed in Playing Commedia these are books which help performers understand "Play" and the use of masks.
1. **Sears Eldredge's Mask Improvisation for Actor Training and Performance: The Compelling Image has chapters on meanings of masks, histories of mask use and training, with the bulk of the material on lessons is using neutral, character, emotional, totem, complex character, and found masks, and mask theatre. The appendices include thorough instructions for mask design and construction, some useful mask templates, and teaching forms and handouts.
2. **Mask Characterization: An Acting Process by Libby Appel (Southern Illinois University, IL/1982) is a step by step process for mask exploration, first as an instructor's guide and then for the actor. A sample class schedule and class procedure suggestions are included. The exercises are successive, but can be extracted for individual sessions.
3. **Davis Robinson's new book, Physical Comedy (Heinneman, NY/1999), has succinct workable and fun exercises for various aspects of physical comedy. He divides the exercises into explorations for solos, duets, trios, groups, and finishes with further advice for players.
The following three books are broader based about theatre training in general but include chapters on use of masks and playing improvisations:
1. **The Tricks of the Trade by Dario Fo. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997 and is still performing with his wife Franca Rama. This book is full of ideas for physical comedy.
2. **The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre by Jacques Lecoq, translated by David Bradby (Routledge, NY/2001). Lecoq, who passed away in 1999, was one of the master teachers of theatre movement for the 20th c. This book shares his philosophy of performance, improvisation, masks, movement, and gesture.
3. **Impro for Storytellers by Keith Johnstone (Routledge, NY/1999). Johnstone's follow-up book to Impro, this book offers many more improvisation exercises for theatre sports, making things happen, story games, filler games, characters, entertainment games, and technical stuff.