You just can’t take your eyes off those mesmerizing masks! It’s not enough that our Theatre Conservatory students to rewrote the medieval morality play Everyman into their own powerhouse voice of Everywoman. They delved deep into artistic interpretation to design and make Commedia-style masks to represent their characters.
Knowledge, Good Deeds, Death, Kindred, Fellowship and God are among the allegorical characters in the fifteenth-century play that tells the tale of the dying Everyman (or at Mayfield, the Everywoman) and the qualities that matter most in life. Spoiler alert: Good Deeds matter most in Everywoman’s journey to death.
Our conservatory students said the play represented their own thoughtful journey in theatre studies.
Jadyn Norris ’20 plays the role of a sister to Everywoman and said she decided to emphasize multiple colors and softness in her mask to reflect the helpful and caring ways of her character.
“Everyone in the show had to ask themselves, ‘what is the intent of the character?’ as they designed their masks,” Jadyn said.
Gianna Shain ’19, who plays the role of Goods, as in material goods, used green and purple in her mask to represent money and royalty.
“I wanted the colors to emulate wealth,” she said.
Work began on the masks in January under the guidance of Beth Peterson, a master puppet and mask maker affiliated with the Los Angeles Music Center’s Art Integration Partnership.
Behind the scenes, our Technical Theatre Conservatory worked their own magic under pressure and converted the set of Godspell, which was performed only two weeks ago, into a whole new set that depicted the ethereal world of Everywoman.
The tech students learned a new scenic art method called “wet blending” as they painted the grayish tones of the set, said Technical Theatre Director Phil Velasco.
The three-month effort is typical of Mayfield’s immersive Theatre and Technical Theatre Conservatory curriculum, which offers students the opportunity to explore the process of theatre and diverse modes performance, said Art Department Chair and Theatre Conservatory Director Sam Robinson.
Students said the weighty issues of the play made for a difficult assignment as they translated it into their own words. But as the show began to take shape, the student actors were pleased with the opportunity to present it with a distinctive and authentic voice.
For a modern spin, for instance, the students incorporated scenes at a mini-golf center and a Starbucks.
“We had the opportunity to create our own characters, but this is a really serious play and we wanted to make it relatable,” said Yalda Zadeh ’20, who plays Death. “You really have to understand the play to do the adaptation.”
Giana said that as the show came together, she realized how much she had learned.
“This wasn’t about a list of cast members taking a script and acting it out like others have,” she said. “We had the opportunity to create and make our own characters. And were were given the space to make those choices.”
Everywoman shows in Pike Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17. Tickets available at the door.