“To Carry A Mask” - Carol Triffle

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31st, 2009 by jerry

Since 1979, Jerry and I have been exploring masks. Almost 30 years of experience has reinforced one important realization – the mystery of the mask is evasive.  How does a mask come to life? When I attended the Lecoq school in the eighties and nineties, students were asked to watch  when the actor falls away and all that is left is the mask persona.  We would watch  intensely as a single actor performed on a bare stage.  We leaned forward as instructed by M. Lecoq and opened our eyes looking for a single moment when the mask came to life.  We were watching like theatre archeologists for a moment that is not so easily defined by inexperienced eyes.  The moment when the actor’s cleverness, inventiveness, and talents fall away and what remains is the mask.  That moment is rare.  I only saw that moment a few times. 

In our works ZooZoo, FROGZ, and Biglittlethings we work with actors to find the truth of the mask.   As choreography, timing, special effects and the entire event of theatre takes place, it is difficult for the actor to stay focused on mask theatre – the very thing the actor is there to do. Many times we give actors notes reminding them that they are not performing alone, but rather they are in partnership with the mask, that in order for the mask to come alive they need to let the mask share the stage. Lecoq used the phrase to carry a mask.  I think this phrase to carry signifies that an actor must support the mask; much the same way a supporting actor supports the lead.  The actor cannot take the lead or the mask will have no life.

ZooZoo, Imago’s best of FROGZ and Biglittlethings, opens April 10th.


Talking Without Speaking

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5th, 2009 by jerry

In “APIS, or The Taste of Honey”, a production I am about to open in ten days, I have given this directorial notes to actors only using their bodies and not their voice - “stop talking.”

Influenced by the great Jacques Lecoq,  I am fortunate to recognize physical gesture that is speaking as opposed to physical action that is not speaking.

Here’s a simple example.  A character waves his hand goodbye.  That is talking without speaking. He is saying “goodbye.”  Now lets alter the event.  The character looks into the eyes of the one departing.   The character has difficulty keeping eye contact because he can not bear to see his friend leave. The actor does not gesture, there is no physical talking. His body resigns to the departure. The event becomes deeper than words.

By removing language from  non-verbal gesture,  we travel elsewhere. Beyond the world of language there is subterranean feelings, emotions, and actions.   Perhaps it is the reason we want to watch movement theatre or dance.  Scripts, movies, plays that are language driven are only part of the drama of life.  The human condition began thousands of years before language.  Perhaps that’s why we strive for that level beyond words. A place that can’t be reduced by language.

“APIS, or The Taste of Honey” opens March 13.