Page name: Project: Bacchae [Logged in view] [RSS]
2010-09-24 15:23:41
Last author: SilverFire
Owner: SilverFire
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Project: Bacchae


These are a series of masks I'm making for a student production of Euripides' Bacchae at the University of Bristol. I started from scratch, first making a clay face, then making a plaster cast of that face. The masks are all made from paper mache using the negative plaster cast as a mould.

After the masks have been taken from the mould, they need more work to get them smooth enough to be painted - this means building them up in some areas and sanding them down in others. The whole masks then needs a gentle sanding so that they will look completely smooth when painted.

The original clay face:





Pentheus requires two masks - one for the actor to wear, and one to be brought on stage at the climax of the play to represent his decapitated head. This is the decapitated head, hence, I didn't need to cut out a mouth for him. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the finished death mask, but it looked pretty much like the one below, with sad eyebrows instead of angry ones, and blood dripping down.


The not-decapitated head.


<img100*0:stuff/z/5555/Project%253a%2520Bacchae/i1269989352_1.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/5555agave2.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/Agave.jpg>

Agave is a queen, I decided to show her status by giving her a crown-esque fixture to the top of her mask.


<img100*0:stuff/5555chorusmask1.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/5555chorusmask2.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/5555chorusmask3.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/5555chorusmask4.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/5555chorusmask5.jpg>

The chorus is made up of five bacchants (plus a chorus leader). I wanted their masks to be quite weird so I played around with the eyes. Playing with the eyes = automatic weirdness. The leaves twirling round the masks are vine leaves, of course.

Chorus Leader



<img100*0:stuff/5555tiresias.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/Tiresias45.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/5555tiresiasfinal2.jpg>

Tiresias is a blind seer, so I gave him a black band across his eyes to show his blindness. Unfortunately, that just made him look like a burglar, so I added the swirly tentacles.

The Guard


Okay, despite the fact that the play is set in Thebes, and despite the fact that the rest of his outfit will hopefully be something similar to the British Queen's Guard uniform, I decided to give him a spartan helm. A corroded Spartan helm. So hopefully, that's what it looks like - a bronze helmet that's been in the water a bit too long, and mostly corroded. I put a little bit of gold on too. 

The Messenger

Quote runs all the way round the edges of the mask and is from Herodotus, the caduceus in the middle of his head is not as most people think the medical symbol (the medical symbol is the staff of Asclepius, and is one snake, with no wings on the staff), but the staff of Hermes, y'know, the messenger.



Unfortunately I ran out of time to varnish this mask - I left it right until the end because I simply couldn't think of how to paint it. I decided on a pure, green vegetation pattern in the end - something healthier than the black vines which tangle round the chorus, but that show she's a character that belongs to the mountains rather than the city.



Dionysos. Son of Zeus. With added Friesian.

The Production:

<img100*0:stuff/bacchae1.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/bacchae5.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/bacchae15.jpg><img100*0:stuff/bacchae10.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/bacchae3.jpg>
Chorus +Dionysos Just the Chorus Agave and Cadmos
mourning Pentheus
The Lighting was red in this,
so the photo isn't very clear, but
it's the bacchae acting out the
Murder of Pentheus as the messenger
describes it.
<img100*0:stuff/bacchae2.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/bacchae6.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/bacchae14.jpg> <img100*0:stuff/bacchae16.jpg>
Dionysos with a
gender confused
Tieresias &
Petheus before the
gender confusion.
Chorus leader


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2010-04-12 [Chel.]: I like Agave...looks like a squid!

2010-04-12 [SilverFire]: Hah, guess she does. :P

2010-09-24 [Yncke]: They look absolutely great. I hope you'll be posting some photos of the actors wearing them.

2010-09-24 [SilverFire]: Thanks. :3 I have a few of the actors wearing them, but not as many as I'd like - we only took photos during the actual performance, so the lighting was bad and they were moving lots (we've since been told that next time, we should take the photos during the dress rehearsal instead).

2010-09-24 [Yncke]: That's a pity, I was very curious about the effect these masks had on stage.

2010-09-24 [SilverFire]: I'll upload the ones I have. :)

2010-09-25 [Yncke]: I really like the total effect in combination with your masks. Some work out very differently than stand alone, especially with that wild hair for Dionysos.
Thank you for uploading. :)

2010-09-25 [SilverFire]: Thanks. :) I wasn't quite sure they would work then they first tried them on - I think I'm too used to seeing masks hanging on walls - it was very weird to see actual eyes peering out.

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