THE TEATRO STRAPPATO MASKS
Every face tells a story, lives a present and is doomed to a fate.
The Teatro Strappato masks are born, as are their shows, in an atelier where they are modelled with clay, wood and leather into the faces of vivid characters.
These unique leather sculptures require a complex and articulate production process. The face of each character must be planned and designed in order to create a mask that harmonises with the actor’s moves and their character.
Our maestro, Donato Sartori, who we learned the techniques of making these magical objects from, often says that the mask is not a portrait or a caricature, but is what lies halfway between one and the other.
Once this delicate design balance has been achieved, the mask is modelled in clay to fit the actor who will be wearing it, and then tests in papier-mâché are carried out. When the character’s final face is obtained, a wooden mould is sculpted which can then be shaped into what will be the actor’s second skin: the leather mask.
Cecilia Scrittore and Vene Vieitez design and produce all the Teatro Strapatto masks in a “mobile atelier” that travels the world with them, suitcases full of hammers, leather, modelling tools, dyes, threads, needles, gouges, knives and folders brimming with drawings and photos of skulls, noses, eyes, ears and mouths that snowball with the faces they encounter along the way.
THE MASK AS FIGURE THEATRE
The masks in which Teatro Strappato has specialised and on which they focus they’re research are half masks. They have discovered an enormous tragic potential and a unique expressive force for silent theatre in these masks. The half mask is usually caged in a museum-like idea of Commedia dell’Arte, almost as if to think that all puppets, figure theatre and traditional glove puppets are the same thing. Nowadays it can be said that the most interesting technical innovations and research are in fact being carried out precisely in the wide universe of figure theatre, an investigation that doesn’t end with mere aesthetic experimentation, but rather creates new narratives and models of expression.
The soul of an artistic expression is found in the intentions that the artist places in its creation. In this sense, in Teatro Strappato we feel more artisans of figure theatre than mere actors. The generosity and devotion that an object or a puppet requires to come to life is the same that a mask requires, in the end it is a simple piece of leather that, stored in a trunk is nothing, but while being “manipulated” on stage it becomes a character, a soul that needs to communicate, a story. In our vision, the mask is not only a piece with which the actor covers his face, but it is an element that can live even being manipulated like a puppet. This is the magic of theatre: a face does not even need a body to be alive, to be moved, to move.
THE MASK AND GESTURE
Each of Teatro Strappato’s creations is an investigation, a journey with the ultimate goal of connecting intimately and deeply with each audience member. The work of universalising the message and the communicative code brings us closer to the mask, to unreal faces made of leather, geometric but archetypal, incisive and alive in collective imaginations. The creation of these masks is the first artisan phase that Teatro Strappato carries out in the construction of the characters. Once this powerful leather object is created, the creation of a language, a grammar, a way of speaking to the world begins and that is when the gesture is born: essential, universal and far from pantomime. It is in this moment that the characters stop talking as words become a limitation, unnecessary and banal. The strength of the actor’s body that does not narrate but makes brings the story to life, breaks all dialectic filters and reveals the characters’ souls.