Summer Mask Intensive Coursework Description

The Hunter Gates Academy

Theatre Mask Intensive  for Educators July 31- August 20, 2021

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The Neutral Mask is a pedagogical tool that serves as a fundamental reference point for all mask work. It leads the artist to experience a grounded state of balance, calm and silence: the here and now of space. Once worn, it allows each participant to experience the neutral state that precedes action; a heightened state of awareness devoid of internal conflict, as the Neutral Mask has no past or future – it exists in a conscious state of presence. When the artist touches this neutral state, the body becomes "a blank page, available for the forthcoming drama to be written" (Jacques Lecoq, The Moving Body). We propose that the Neutral Mask is a perfect starting point for the creation of all theatre work.


Larval Mask follows the Neutral Mask, the artist begins an exploration toward character within the world of Larval Masks, which are transposed from the ancient carnival masks from the city of Basel, Switzerland, into powerful training tools. Very big, simple, and primitive, they merely suggest expression, announcing the lines that will lead to a specific character without defining it. Embryonic-like, the masks propose the dimension of animality or fantasy with characters and situations that live in the realm of the highly stylized, caricatured imagination. Larval mask work has tremendous pedagogical value in all artists' physical theatre training, because they ask for amplification of gesture in order to fully play, provoking the artist to discover dynamic movement informed by the mask as a structure and shape in space.

Character Masks 

These masks propose human characters defined by a single, dominant dynamic.  The masks challenge the artist to embody the very specific human characteristics, where primal emotion takes precedence over intelligence and understanding.


Commedia dell'Arte

For the first time since the beginning of the course work, we reveal the mouth of the artist. This gives freedom to voice, the internal world of the mask.  Half-masks are phenomenal instruments for a dramatic and theatrical play. They introduce the artist to a very precise physical definition of character through the play of urgency and survival. This is especially true in Commedia Dell' Arte, where passions and states are pushed to the extreme and the style demands a very high level of physicality, where the body is completely engaged and constantly receptive. 

The Red Nose 

The Red Nose Mask - the smallest mask in the world - allows participants to experience the "clown state:" a powerful state of being-without-doing that gives the performer a profound sense of openness, authenticity, and freedom in front of an audience while revealing and developing a sense of play. This mask focuses on the actor's craft as player and improviser, targeting physicality, being present in the moment, connecting with the audience, and letting go of the inner judge.


Working in this manner will create the necessary space to follow the impulses required to truly play. Regardless of each participant's personal artistic journey, this experience with the Red Nose is fundamental to anyone and it will remain an essential reference point in their training history.


Participants will be immersed in a diverse curriculum of theatre specialties and disciplines. The development of the program is rooted in various courses of study.

Movement Analysis & Technique

The analysis of movements and technique is designed as a 2-track course, exploring the fundamentals of the body in action. Analysis of movement provides an unlimited amount of resources for play and creation while movement technique provides the structure for artistic mastery.

Starting from the observation of the human body in the daily activities of life, this work presents the artist with a greater awareness of the body in space and dramatic presence. In the study of movements, there exists a series of basic actions and an awareness toward the human body structure of opening, closing, extension, flexion, verticality, horizontality, pulsation, breathing, pushing and pulling, acceleration and deceleration, the rhythm and the counter-rhythm, etc...The analysis and practice of this work enable the artist to discover the source of personal impulse for action, essential for dramatic theatrical creation.


Course work is based in play, in order to discover improvisational rules: be in the present, the priority of response and reaction on the action, action in play, the availability of emptiness, rhythm, tempo, range, development of themes, the overturning of a theme, the recall of a theme and more. Chronologically, these rules came before the playwright and the text. The daily practice and understanding of improvisation allow artists to play and "write" the theatre of their own creation.


Physical Preparation

Physical preparation is a necessary and permanent training of the body that allows the student to know its potential and to maintain it efficiently, enabling it to become an expressive instrument. The course work will explore and improve essential physical actions (reaching, pushing, balancing, weight-shifting, etc).

Voice of the Mask

Course work specifically focuses on the training of the voice: resonance, the liberation of sound through the many physical resonating points in the body.

There is also an emphasis on the connection between body movement and sound, defined as "voice movement" evolving into the connection between sound, body movement, and mask.

Autonomous Ensemble

This is a self-taught class, collective collaboration course. Without direct supervision, small groups of students work on themes connected to the overall course work. This work develops playwriting, directing, and performance skills that are essential to the creation of original theatre. This class will be alternate with a discussion class.


This class intends to create dialogue around pedagogic issues encountered during the mask teaching strategies classes. During this time, facilitators and participants will have the opportunity to discuss and integrate the day's experience, to bring in and to develop pedagogic theory while consciously leaving open the questions that constitute the unfolding process of education, as opposed to the delivery of information.

Students’ will focus on creating teaching exercises and approaches, either alone or in collaboration with each other, so that the teaching role can emerge as a creative practice rather than as a mechanistic scheme. These devised proposals will be practiced by the group, giving participants further insight into how they might integrate their learning into their daily teaching practice.


Class Location: 117-5305 Magasin Ave, Beaumont, Alberta Canada

Email: Hunter Gates:

Call: +1 780-737-3003 

WhatsApp: +1 780-909-8781 

Skype: whisperedcadence