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 Read about the project's goals, challenges, and trajectory of our work!


Why use Theatrical Masks?


Masks are tools for making fun, funny, and high energy theatre.

And they can do good, too.  Masks give release to the wearer.  Masks

provide anonymnity.  Masks can project an idea across a room without 

speaking a word.  Masks can make us laugh and laugh.  


How can masks do good?  

By working with good people doing important work.   

What kind of mask faces will be used?
The mask sets that traveled to Liberia in June of 2015 were comprised of 12 original mask designs:
-Six of them reflect basic emotions ("joy", "sorrow", "fear", "anger", "awe" and "disgust") 
-Three of them represent "generations" or masks that represent people in different stages of life ("baby", "adult", "elder").  
-The final three masks represent "pride", "shame" and "ambivalence".  
We think that the masks of this set give young people plenty performance options when creating their own characters and writing their own plays.  You can see images of the masks in use in the GALLERY.
Are there special ways to use masks?


Masks can be worn by anyone!  But there are certain tricks to get the most performance out of one.  That's why we've created a mask performance training video for people who want to use these masks in particular.  



The mask performance training videos are short, 2 to 4 minute videos, each covering one important element of how to use this tool.  Created by Tara Cariaso and David Toia, the videos give physical warm up instruction, step by step exercises for using body and gestures to serve the mask, and improvisational exercises to help the student play with ferocity and joy on the stage!  We feel these videos will be a great help to anyone who wishes to make their own joyful theatre in mask.  

What if the students aren't allowed to perform their plays because of restrictions for public safety due to Ebola?


As of earlier this year, there were no new cases of Ebola reported in Liberia for several months and it is believed that the illness is gone from the country.  


Every year, the big theatre festival in Bong County, Liberia, is planned to feature all four original plays by the four B4 Youth Theatre training sites.  B4 Youth has been active for the last year in Education Outreach in their own communities with Unicef's support, letting their towns know how to stay healthy and Ebola free.

Aren't masks a hazard since they might spread the illness amongst the students?


This is a very important question in which we have invested much time and conversation. We have consulted our friends at B4 Youth Theatre and they have told us that that as long as cleaning the masks after every use  with the proper disinfectant is part of the routine, there is very little risk of speading the sickness from child to child.  The CDC confirms that Clorox Wipes will kill the Ebola virus.


To drive this point home, our training videos feature a video segment on the cleaning of the mask, and cleaning the mask will be part of the process of mask use.  We also sent Clorox wipes to Liberia with the masks, expressly for the mask use.  It was also of great comfort to learn that the locations of the four training sites in Liberia where B4 Youth Theatre functions were themselves Ebola free throughout the duration of the outbreak in the country because their citizens are educated about the virus.  



So in 2016, the mask person is going to Liberia?  How do you know it's worthwhile?


After 2 previous summers of sending forth our work to the country, in the summer of 2016 Tara will be traveling to Liberia to work first hand with students to focus on how mask performance can enhance character creation for original social justice plays and playwrights. 


In 2015,  4 tablets containing the training videos and instructor manuals, along with the 39 masks, traveled with B4 Youth Theatre executive director, one set of masks and one tablet for each site. We know that the materials and training we sent forth were well received!


  • Surveys (saved/sent via tablets) from Youth Instructors expressed joy and excitement about mask performance!

  • Photos taken show us how beautiful the students and youth instructors were in training!

  • Videos of the students in the instructor education process let us know their thoughts in response to the material sent

  • Executive Director's first hand account:  We hear that everyone had a good time and that the students' physical approach to play making was opened up by the process!


So we are ready to go!



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