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Mask Explorations

Drama Education Workshops for Grades 4-6
Mask Explorations Workshop

Masks are part of our everyday lives now –
BUT they’ve been part of the arts for centuries!

The Mask Explorations project is a chance to take the reality of mask wearing and turn it into something creative. A performance mask allows a person to embody a character physically, without speaking. After eighteen months of isolation and physical restrictions, this workshop gives students a way to explore how we communicate through movement to tell stories creatively.

In the first part of this exploration, students will be able to follow a step-by-step video to create a full-face mask out of “found objects” (e.g. recycled materials, items from nature, etc) as part of their visual arts time. They will also watch video examples of mask performance.

Once students are ready with their own masks, an actor from the performances will lead the class in a 45 minute workshop (in person or virtually depending on your school’s visitor rules). Students will learn techniques for handling their masks, warming up up their bodies, animating their full-face masks, and exploring the character of their mask through interactive activities.

This workshop will explore identity, empathy, collaboration, cooperation, ‘reading’ and using non-verbal communication, deep listening and observing, understanding, and creating new relationships.

Left and bottom mask images courtesy of:
Acting Discipline of Unitec – Performing and Screen Arts Department, Faculty of Creative Industries – Auckland.
Coordination – Senior Lecturer Pedro Ilgenfritz.

Mask Explorations Dates
November 15 to December 10, 2021

Thinking of bringing FREE Mask Explorations workshops to your school?

Contact Mallory at 905-682-8326 *22 and

Mask Explorations Bookings Include

A TEACHERS’ GUIDE: guidelines for teachers to help students’ understanding of masks throughout the project—before and after the performance. The Guide will include the where, why, what, how and when of mask usage, and a short history of mask performance globally, across Canada, and by Niagara’s own Theatre Beyond Words.

MAKING A MASK VIDEO: this instructional video will guide students through the creative process of creating a full-face mask of “found objects.”

MASK PERFORMANCE VIDEOS: these videos will show scenes performed by actors in full-face masks to illustrate mask performance for the students. The scenes are based on Theatre Beyond Words’ world-reknowned “Potato People.” This 2021 collaborative version includes new characters and scenes devised by Carousel Players and performed by the actors who will deliver the workshops.

A DAY-LONG SCHOOL VISIT WITH WORKSHOPS FOR UP TO 3 CLASSROOMS: lead by the actor-educator, students will learn how to approach, handle, and animate (mentally and physically) their full-face masks. This visit can be in person or virtual depending on your school’s visitor guidelines.

COST TO your SCHOOL: $0

This program has been generously supported by the Niagara Region’s Niagara Investment In Culture Program.

Niagara Investment in Culture

Creative Team

Monica Dufault - Co-Creator & Co-Director

Monica Dufault has been Artistic Director of Carousel Players since 2018. Previously she performed with The Shaw Festival, The National Arts Centre, Theatre Aquarius, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and other companies across Canada. She has acted in many plays for young audiences and was nominated for a Dora Award for her performance in Where the Wild Things Are. Monica was the Artistic Director of Essential Collective Theatre from 2014 to 2018, where she directed 12 productions. For Carousel Players, she has directed seven productions, including Tomson Highway’s The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, which toured to Vancouver and Saskatoon in 2019. Ms. Dufault was selected as the Canadian delegate to the 2018 ASSITEJ Germany Directors in TYA Conference in Berlin, and is now a member of the board of ASSITEJ Canada. She holds a BA in Theatre, MA in Comparative Literatures and Arts, and is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada.

Robin Patterson - Co-Creator & Co-Director

ROBIN PATTERSON graduated from L’École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France, then toured extensively with the Canadian Mime Theatre for 4 years.  In 1977 she co-founded Theatre Beyond Words, a collective ensemble that toured regionally, nationally and internationally until 2013.  Robin was part of the team that created 35 physical theatre and mask plays for TBW; and she was instrumental in devising the company’s cartoon-style larval mask series POTATO PEOPLE.  Patterson taught physical theatre performance at Brock University, ON and Niagara University, NY.  In 2007 she won the Woman of Distinction Award for Arts and Culture, Niagara Region.  She wrote an adaptation of The Canterville Ghost workshopped by Shaw Festival in 2009/10 and was a Consultant in Mime Techniques for their acclaimed 2016 production of Our Town.  She is working with Tottering Biped Theatre, devising physical theatre pieces to accompany Carnival of the Animals and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for family classical concert touringMost recently Robin collaborated with Carousel Players on the development of a new generation of larval mask characters and scenes inspired by TBW’s original series.  Called “Mask Minis”, these are a live and virtual educational project for Carousel’s 50th Anniversary Season. 

Sara Allison - Stage Manager

Sara Allison is a local St. Catharines stage manager, proud to be part of the Carousel Players team that continues to bring theatre to young audiences. Carousel Players credits include: Meet Chloe, Mask Exploration, HBD2Me, Lig & Bittle, Water Wonder, Whole World, and Hare & Tortoise. Recent credits elsewhere: Lunenburg (Lighthouse/ Showboat Festival Theatre), Fair & Square (Bluewater Summer Playhouse), Becoming Dr. Ruth (Harold Green Jewish Theatre Co.), Bad Jews (The Segal Centre/ Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company), Fair & Square (Lighthouse Festival Theatre), Master Harold and the Boys, Dracula, Chitra, Me and My Girl (Shaw Festival). Thank you to my family and friends for being part of my theatre journey!

Roberta Doylend - Costume Designer

An award winning costume designer, Roberta Doylend has designed and built costumes for stage, opera and film from coast to coast, inside a federal penitentiary, and internationally. For ECT, Roberta has designed: Wings of Wax, The Valley, Falling: A Wake, Poor, L’Lapse, The Fighting Days and The Drawer Boy. Favorite other productions include The Magic Flute, Marriage of Figaro, A Little Night Music (Victoria Opera Studio), Midsummer’s Night Dream, The Hobbit, Sound of Music, The Importance of Being Earnest, Charlie’s Aunt, Hello Dolly, A Christmas Carol (Chemainus Theatre). After many years on Vancouver Island, she relocated to Niagara to join the production team for the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, now in their new building in downtown St Catharines. After over 25 years as an independent designer, she truly enjoys teaching the next generation of theatre technicians.

Taylor Bogaert - Performer

Taylor (he/him) is overjoyed to be making his debut with Carousel Players. He is a graduate of Brock University’s Dramatic Arts Program, and Fanshawe College’s Theatre Arts program. He is an enthusiast for being a part of new Canadian plays, all types of physical theatre, and creating stories collaboratively. 

Recent acting credits include: Perdita: The Winters’s Tale, Love and Information, King Ubu (Brock University); Y (Alumnae Theatre); Rat King, Civil Dawn, The Creetin Chronicle (Banished by the King); Lear, Shelley or the Idealist (Fanshawe College); Chicken Feather, The Cheese Poet (AlvegoRoot).

Much thanks to his partner, family, and friends for their unending love and support.

Nicholas Eddie - Performer

Nick Eddie

Nicholas Eddie is an actor, director, and theatre maker, specializing in physical theatre. He completed his training at George Brown Theatre School in 2018. 

Selected theatre acting credits include: Drosselmeyer (The Nutcracker, Niagara Ballet School), Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theatre Rusticle), Storyteller (The Monkey Queen, Red Snow Collective), Bingo (Pirate Life Productions), Timothy (Freda and Jem’s Best of the Week, Summerworks Festival). Nicholas was nominated for a Dora award as a member of the ensemble in Theatre Rusticle’s Midsummer Night’s Dream

Kayla McSorely - Performer

Kayla McSorley (she/her/elle) is a French-Canadian Actor, Singer, Dancer and Educator from Ottawa, ON. She is a graduate of Niagara University, NY, where she received a BFA in Theatre Performance and a BA in French. Since acquiring her degree, she has worked as a performer and theatre teaching artist in the USA, Taiwan, Toronto and Ottawa. Favorite teaching and theatre for young audience credits include Canada’s Wonderland, Travelling Stage, Pirate Life Theatre, Artishow, Little Red Theatre, International Musicals and the world’s largest touring children’s theatre company, Missoula Children’s Theatre!

Meryl Ochoa - Performer

Meryl Ochoa (She/Her) is a Filipina theatre artist/musician who immigrated to Canada with her family in 2012. She studied Dramatic Arts and Psychology at Brock University and has since been working as a creator-performer and a research assistant. She has worked in new and devised pieces with St. Catharines-based companies Carousel Players, Suitcase in Point, Stolen Theatre Collective, and Twitches & Itches, and with BC-based company Affair of Honor. In 2019 she co-founded Tethered The Ghost, a multi-disciplinary theatre collective, and they recently performed their first original show Healing Thread. Meryl is devoted to developing work that tells untold truths and empowers those that are under-represented.