So. Epic.

The Epic Project

Inspired by the study of mythology by Joseph Campbell (a favorite of mine too!), as well as theatre creators Ariane Mnouchkine, Jacques Lecoq, Peter Brook, and Complicite, Professor Stephanie Roberts is leading an exciting collaboration between UMKC Theatre and  the UMKC Conservatory IMP Ensemble.

The working title is The Epic Project. It is a three year endeavor to weave contemporary and classic stories into an epic narrative suited to our times. The actors have been devising for nearly two years already. I was invited to be a part of that exploration this last February.

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As a part of their exploration of character and archetype, I worked with the actors to create animal-spirit masks.  The inspiration for this work came in part from old mask and mummer traditions from Europe and also from animal and spirit masks from around the world.  I asked the students to engage with familiar objects and new materials as they uncovered the spirit of the animal within.

Enough chatter. Here are some pictures!

Initial experiments

A new mouth for Josh.
Joshua uses a basket to create a mouth.
An experimental mask made by Edwin.  It's made of wax paper and captures the movement and essence of a different material.
An experimental mask made by Edwin. It’s made of wax paper and captures the movement and essence of a different material.
We then tried making animal masks using only one material: cardboard.
We then tried making animal masks using only one material: cardboard.
Making a mask not only requires choice of material, but constant check-ins along the way.
Making a mask not only requires choice of material, but constant check-ins along the way.
Masks aren't complete until the performer's body is added. We used this as a way to check in on our work as we built.
Masks aren’t complete until the performer’s body is added. We used this as a way to check in on our work as we built.

Digging further into materials

What we're working with.
What we’re working with.

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Uncovering the animal spirit

We did many experiments with materials and forms, then took what we learned and started making the mask for each actor.

The actors made a ball of paper the size of their head and attached it to the armature stand. This helps them size the mask correctly.
The actors made a ball of paper the size of their head and attached it to the armature stand. This helps them size the mask correctly.

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On the second to last day of our process, Julie Denesha from KCUR came and interviewed some of the actors. Check out her amazing photos here.

Mariem/Mosquito Photo: Julie Denesha
Mariem/Mosquito
Photo: Julie Denesha

See the work-in-action!

Come see the workshop performance in this phase of the Epic Project in Studio 116 at UMKC’s Performing Arts Center (4949 Cherry St.)  Previews run from Friday Mar 6-8th and runs Mar 11-15th. Shows at 7:30 with the exception of Mar 15th at 2:00pm.

Seating is very limited so please reserve your FREE tix at 816-235-2782.

Support live, collaborative theatre!

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