BARBARA DAMETTO ~ VISUAL ARTS
William Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players." Oscar Wilde has put his spin on this phrase, declaring that, “The world is a stage, and the play is badly cast.”
Whatever the case, we are all players and have an entire cast of characters (personalities) that sometimes are referred to as "the self". Often we are hiding behind these rough, rowdy, dowdy, tragic, sexy, sad, wise, belligerent and holy guises never quite understanding and befriending them or recognizing which ones are running the show. One thing is for sure, and that is that more than often, these characters are unconscious.
Used for protection, disguise, entertainment and ritual practices, the earliest use of masks (700 B.C.) was for religious and shamanic rituals and ceremonies.
The tradition of theatre masks goes back to the ancient Greeks, who used masks both for practical needs and dramatic performances. They were also used in commedia dell'arte (Italian theatre), Japanese theatre and have a long history in almost every culture throughout the world. Masks can be beautiful or grotesque, but they are always evocative.
The use of masks is varied and unique and can be found on the theatre stage, in the artist's studio, in a religious rite of passage, or in a therapeutic environment. Psychodrama, for example, uses a dramatic approach to artistically and skillfully "play out" certain scenes in a person's life through role-playing, enactment, impersonation, and improvisation. In this environment, masks can be used for the purpose of assisting people in dealing with different (often traumatic) aspects of their lives.