Saturday, Sep 23rd 2017

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9. Facing the Mask

When a person covers his face with a mask, he thinks his real face is hidden. He feels safe behind the facade , and he acts as though he were not seen. Faces customarily dominate expression. We are accustomed to watching faces; consequently, we rarely notice what emotions the rest of the body is expressing. There are muscles in the face that we tense even when we think we are relaxed. When the gesticulations of the face are concealed by some sort of covering, a mask, suddenly we take notice of the body. Then something startling is revealed. By covering the face, we discover the real face, the real self.

Any appearance is a mask. Everyone knows that things are often not what they appear to be. Clothes, cars, jobs, routines, attitudes, and false smiles all mask the real person. Even personal history cloaks the real self.

Masks are the border between appearance and essence. At Le Centre du Silence we use plaster gauze to make white, neutral masks of our own faces. Neutrality is the space between yes and no. We use the masks to put the personality aside so we can find the observateur inside.

MASK SESSION
a verbatim guidance of the mask workshop experience

"Sit with the spine straight, in stillness. Hold the mask in your hands and look at it. Observe the texture and other de tails. It's part of your skin that you have peeled. It's a replica of your physical face. Think no thoughts other than about the mask. Look at the shape of the features. Do not judge, just look. Look at the eyes. They appear as two holes that reach infinity . Become familiar with your face that you hold in your hands.

"This tool, the mask, is a place. It's not a time. Become friends with the mask and it will teach you many things. Your face is looking at you. It is covered, somehow, by different thoughts.

"Very slowly put the mask on your face. Take five million years to do this. No brusque movements. Every movement should be very conscious. With the mask on, keep the eyes closed. Breathe very calmly. Begin to feel your own facial structure under the mask. It is covered, as if by clothes.

"Visualize yourself sitting in water up to your neck. It is the ocean. What you see is the horizon of the waters. Nourish the waters, the horizon, and ask who is behind the mask. It has no name. Is it your face? Is the mask really that important , or is it just a tool to help us realize the essence? No at tributes, no name, no concept totally pure. If we can grasp that ungraspable, then later we can express that essence.

"Find the neutral one, the no-name one, the circle, the empty one within. That center of the circle is there living be hind every being.

"Open the eyes halfway. What you see on the other side of the horizon is the reflection of yourself. Be detached from it. There is no such thing as near or far. You cannot measure the horizon. The water is cool and helps the body in that total peace.

"In very slow motion, like moving for the first time, check to see if the mask is still there. The hands don't touch as if they know, they touch as if they want to know. Look at your hands through the windows of your eyes.

"Stand up using very slow motion. Who is behind the mask moving the body? It is a new physical being that you discover, but who is discovering it? Who is moving the body from the in side? The goal is to stand. Do not plan any movement. Let the one behind the mask move you.

"Once you stand, get in touch with that presence. The presence is not you. It's no-name. If we are aware of it, everything becomes fresh, as if for the first time. Let the presence walk, using the vehicle of the body. Any movement we do now is in the service of walking, with appreciation and reverence. The presence goes for a promenade. It is not limited in any way. Turn. When the head meets the limitation of the body, the presence continues. The presence will teach you to turn.

"Now we take certain conditions and see how the presence relates. Be cold! Let coldness contract the body, as the presence stays remote, observing the expression of the body. Watch how the mask keeps the face from interfering in the body's expression . Now change; be hot! Immediately the body expands and droops, but the presence stays distant.

"The body takes on archetypes. Be a warrior! The archetype of the warrior is one who knows his power and knows how to use it positively. Be a coward! Receive the universal coward in you. Cowardice is not negative; it is a state of being. Let the presence teach you how to use the body as a brush. Presence never needs to justify itself. The presence knows.

"Come back to the original spot where you began. The presence sits like a king or queen. It knows how to sit. The one who is sitting has a right to be there. Turn the head to brush the horizon. Just the head. C'est une noblesse de presence. Close the windows and sit still in the waters. Very slowly, eyes closed, take off the mask and hold it facing you."

The work with masks opens beautiful doors to us to be in touch with ourselves and to become aware of the presence, that formless guidance, that springs up from the center of our being. This form of work opens new vistas of self exploration to the student. Further, it provides specific tools to enter into the inner self, learn, experience, and emerge with a definitive artistic expression.

"Samuel brings awareness to the soul of people and gives the artists who work under his direction the need, dedication, and love for the world of silence and the beautiful art of movement."

 

- Marcel Marceau, BIP 1961

Contact us

Le Centre Du Silence
P.O. Box 745
Lafayette, CO 80026

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About LCDS

LCDS is an independent school for self-discovery through the human Arts.  The school offers seminars and workshops teaching the concepts of Theater, Mime, and Movement.