Student Instructors choose masks for an exploration
The training for actors in Emotion Masks is a way to engage actors physically creating recognizable human emotions, one at a time, using their bodies to tell the stories. Masks are half masks, allowing for speech and in character improvisation. In this way, the emotion of the mask focuses the actor's mind towards telling stories through that voice, simplifying the task from a complex representation of themselves before their peers, to a game of finding and staying in the character's mind set.
In this image, we are getting started with an initial training using the masks. You'll see that the majority of these Student Instructors are young women. In Liberia, young women in the 15-20 year age range are commonly challenged by their community to accomplish family and domestic tasks in lieu of attending school. In this case, these young women who live at an orphanage in Mt Barclay have been part of the B4 Youth Theatre arts education training for 2 to 3 years already, and have articulated that they want to be here. In many cases, their dedication to the training is challenged by the adults around them who expect them to prepare food or care for smaller children rather than train, as this is the cultural norm in Liberia for women, whereas the men are more encouraged to get education. These young women have to learn to steel themselves in a direction of self interest to take up even a tuition-free education, let alone find funds for a costly high school/university education experience.
I am grateful I was there to learn from their strength and perseverance.