05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Masks and the Theatre by Kristin Wallace

The theme for this month on Romancing the Genres is a fun one…masks. I had to think about what I could talk about and how it might tie in to my writing. But then I remembered that my Shellwater Key Tales series is about rehabbing an old dinner theatre and bringing it to life again.

I’ve always loved acting, and in fact, I was a theatre major in college at Florida State University. I 
wrote the series partly because I wanted to do something that featured a theatre in some way. The RTG theme of masks goes perfectly because of the origins of drama itself. The Ancient Greeks are largely credited with the first form of drama. They would perform plays to honor the Greek god, Dionysus. Among the most famous Greek plays was Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother (without knowing of course).

One of the great traditions of ancient Greek plays was the use of theatre masks. In my fictional Paradise Dinner Theatre, there are even gold Tragedy/Comedy masks mounted above the stage. There were several reasons for the use of masks in Ancient Greek theatre. First, the actors performed in huge outdoor amphitheaters that were built into the sides of hills. There could be as many as 14,000
people attending. This meant those in the audience might be far away from the stage so masks allowed everyone to see. The masks were very elaborate and designed with exaggerated features to help convey emotion to someone sitting way at the top of the hill. Another big reason is that productions might only have a few actors, and masks allowed one person to play many different parts, including female characters. There were no women actors allowed at that time, so men or young boys would play the those roles.

Of course, wearing a mask also came with challenges for the actor. Since they could not use their own faces to convey emotion (other than what the mask represented) they had to rely on their voice and exaggerated gestures. A good actor had to be incredibly gifted at telling the story with his voice and body movement to ensure the audience understood what was happening.

If you want to read a little more about the origins of Greek drama and masks, check out these websites: History of Greek Theatre & History of Masks  

Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. Book 2 in the Shellwater Key Tales, STRAIGHT ON TOWARD PARADISE will launch mid-September. You can also get a jump on your holiday reading by pre-ordering Sweet Christmas Kisses 3, a holiday box set featuring 17 sweet romance novellas for only 99 cents, including FALLING FOR YOU AT CHRISTMAS, a Shellwater Key Tale. (pre-order now, on sale September 27th.) Find out more at her website: Kristin Wallace Author


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Robin Weaver, Author said...

Interesting post, Kristin!

Judith Ashley said...

Very interesting post, Kristin. I watched a program on, I think, the history channel on Greece and they showed a group of actors performing today in the same way as was done in ancient Greece. Fascinating!

Isn't it fun to be able to take something like your love of theater and bring it to life in another setting in Shellwater Key? One of the joys of being an author!

Diana McCollum said...

Very interesting post! Who knew so many people attended Greek theater in the ancient times!