Inside the Gorilla Mask

by Sophie Power on 7 September, 2016 in Shows

One of the unique elements of Gorilla Theatre™ is we have an improviser playing as a Gorilla. This is a challenge for the improviser to play an essentially silent character through a mask. We asked our performers:

"What is it like to play as a silent mask character in an impro show considering how much improvisors love to talk?"

"I find it both a challenging, and an exciting medium, as a physical performer we use our entire bodies for our language, voice is only one aspect, that when silenced by the mask it heightens our awareness of what else we can do, challenges us to be more expressive, sometimes with even less effort than when we speak. Smaller movements in the mask, at times, can portray so much more emotion and dialogue, creating an exciting dynamic between the speaking improviser and the masked Gorilla character." - Patrick Duffy


"It's like wearing a straight jacket around your face. Its all happening inside and you hope you can make your eyes convey all of your communication." - Sarah Kinsella


"Getting to know the power of the mask is the first thing. You see it from the outside as a fellow player or audience member but then you have to trust that when you are wearing it. That the slightest turn of the head, the silence and the gaze of the mask will be filled with narrative by the audience. I think when I first wore it way back when we started playing this format, I didn't trust and because I couldn't speak I did more with my body, to be 'interesting'. Now, after doing more of Keith Johnstone's mask work I really trust the mask to tell the story, to let the audience bring their imaginations to play. Silence speaks volumes now. It is often a very emotional experience as in that silence and breathing our own emotional energy flows into the scene.

When playing the Gorilla I love that every small movement is now a huge offer, that simply looking over at my scene partner creates energy between us and we can leave long silences. Indeed the Gorilla mask and the silence of that character is now the biggest and best offer to follow in a scene.. We truly don't know what is coming next." - Jenny Lovell


"I actually find it really freeing. Often I find my body knows what I'm trying to say better than I could ever put into words. I find that being inside the gorilla suit I am more free to take big risks without the stress or worry that the audience is judging me (the person, not the character!)" - Amy Moule


"It's like performing on the high wire with both arms tied behind my back. Impro normally is a balancing act, requiring a split focus between what your scene partners are offering and what the show needs most. For "talky" improvisers like me, it can be all to easy just to flap your gums until something sticks and the scene advances. Taking that tool away and forcing myself to use my "face" in a different way forces me into a more exciting and creative place, one requiring big, committed offers that will either fly or fail. In other words, it removes my verbal safety net." - Kevin Yank


We hope this inspires you as much as it inspires us! Only 2 weeks to go before 'Gorilla Theatre™' - Book your tickets now before they sell out!