Chris Vervain Mask Theatre
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Greek New Comedy


The plays of New Comedy were a sort of ancient domestic sitcom featuring stock characters such as the young lovers, the braggart soldier, the scheming slave, the prostitute with the heart of gold, pimps, toadies, grouchy old men . . .
The mask worn by the actor would immediately inform the audience on the type of character they were seeing.
A common story line involves a young man in love with a young woman but the match is opposed by an old man.  Often a scheming slave would help his young master get the girl despite opposition.
The most important New Comedy playwright was Menander (c. 341-291 BCE ).  His plays and those of his contemporaries continued to be performed for centuries and were translated and adapted for the Roman stage most notably by the playwrights Plautus (c. 254-184 BCE) and Terence (c.186-159 BCE) and it is through these writers that the New Comedy legacy was passed on to drama of the modern era.
The images here show some of the masks I have made to perform New Comedy today.  In making them I have been inspired by some of the ancient artefacts-such as terracottas, mosaics and wall paintings - that depict the masks. The video demonstrates performance properties of some of the masks.
Slave Mask. As featured in the BBC2 progrsmme:"Who were the Greeks?" Slave- torso view Slave - Full Figure  Mask for a Young Woman young_woman_brown_half.jpg Young Woman- full length
Young_woman_fair_full.jpg Young_woman_fair_half.jpg Young_woman_fair_head.jpg young_man_full.jpg Young_man_half.jpg young_man_close.jpg
Old_man_2_close.jpg Old_man_2_full.jpg Old_man_2_half.jpg Old_man_close.jpg Old_man_full.jpg Old_man_half.jpg
Slave_2_close.jpg Slave_2_full.jpg Slave_2_half.jpg

Video of Chris Vervain demonstrating the properties of ancient New Comedy masks