in drama last week we made plaster masks. we then cut out eye holes, put some gunk on to make them hold together better, and put in elastic so that we could wear them without holding them with our hands.
and today...today we started mask work.
it was an experience, let me tell you that. and i want to try to take you through the whole time...you won't feel what i felt. you can't without actually being there and wearing a mask. but i need to try to convey what i felt...because it was deep. and strange. and i need to talk about it.
we used the dance studio. it has a bunch of mirrors in it, almost all the walls are lined with mirrors. our teacher had us lie down on our backs with our masks beside us, and relax. she led us through some relaxation breathing and just made sure we were ready. then she asked us to slowly sit up, and to take our mask in our hands. to cradle them, and just to stare. not to look at all the fine details inside and out, but just to stare at it. to realize that this was your face; that this is what you would look like when you put it on. just to stare and let your mind go blank.
then; "mask, turn around so you do not face any people. put your mask on."
[side note: she calls us mask while we have the mask on because she cannot call us by name because we are not ourselves, we are someone completely different.]
once our masks were on, we layed back down on our backs. she put on some relaxing intsrumental type music, and told us that we were awakening for the first time. we needed to awaken on our own time, and to study ourselves, to learn about ourselves. to figure out that we had bodies, and to learn what they could do.
it was strange, to wake up and be in this mind set that you were seeing everything for the first time.
"mask, look in the mirror and see yourself for the first time. be afraid of what you see."
i took a glance in the mirror...and immediately turned away. i did not like what i caught in that glance...maybe it was creepy, maybe my mask just looks strange, i don't know. but i do know that the feeling that coursed through me was strange, i had never felt it before. and i vowed right then and there to not look at myself close in the mirror with a mask on again. i didn't have to act being afraid of myself with a mask, i actually was.
"mask, there are those without masks in the room. seek them out, you are curious about them. but stay away from the other masks, you are afraid of them."
i walked slowly and deliberately to those sitting on the side. i studied them, and i seemed to see them through different eyes. they were nervous, because these white-faced people were coming up to them and just staring them down, trying to learn about them. we were observing.
"mask, make fun of those who are not masked. you are superior to them."
i just looked, with a confidence about me. i felt confident.
"mask, look across the room. there is something that makes you angry."
i caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror across the room. and i was angry, for a split second. then:
"mask, that thing/person that you were angry at...you are now afraid of it."
the fear i felt of myself was very real, i don't remember being that afraid of something so silly before. this was a very real and attention-grabbing fear. i backed up, into a wall. i was cornered, and i felt it.
"mask, you have been hurt by this thing."
i actually felt the pain of being emotionally hurt. i was backed into the wall as far as i could go, and i slid down until i was sitting in a tight ball. i was so full of emotion that i was choked up and had tears. i couldn't understand how this being (my reflection) had hurt me so much.
"mask, you have decided to trust another mask that you would not normally trust. seek that person out, and learn to trust them."
i sat. i didn't know who to trust. katie came up to me, and she looked at me. i slowly stood, and she backed away a few steps. we circled, just staring at each other. not a creepy stare...a wondering stare. wondering if we could trust...
[side note: afterwards, my teacher complimented us on how we were trying to trust each other]
"mask, show your new mask friend something in the room that you are proud of."
katie took me to show her aly, her friend. she was proud of her friend. and i...i was not proud of anything in that room.
"mask...you are tired. you are weary. but there is still a long way to go before you make it home...do whatever you have to do to get there."
i was suddenly exhausted, drained of all energy i had previously had. i slowly dragged myself against the wall, where i sagged down and almost fell asleep.
"mask, turn away from the others and remove your mask."
i removed the mask.
and suddenly everything felt like a dream. it felt surreal, like it maybe hadn't happened. like i was caught and confused between reality and dreamland.
i was shaking after this experience. i didn't know what to think. it was crazy. it was emotional and hard and strange. i felt detached from myself...i really did feel different. it is powerful, as soon as you don that mask. you are so different...and there is only a tiny part of your mind that is still in reality.
i like mask work. it's so different, because no one can judge you. everyone is in their own little bubble, and everyone reacts differently and is so changed by the whole experience. i can't wait for tomorrow.