Inspiration and Development:

Character Mask to Clown


      Richard Pochinko was a Canadian visionary who developed a style of creative exploration and performance training, drawing on three traditions: American circus clown, European clowning and North American Aboriginal mask work. The invitation to class said we will “face the six directions of ourselves, and then we cannot help but laugh at the beauty of it all.”

In this investigation each student makes six masks, for North, West, South, East, Above and Below, going backwards around the directions for the contrary nature of clown. By meditating on each direction and creating a clay mask with closed eyes, the student finds a non-cerebral, direct connection to aspects of their true self. The masks are read and worn by turns and a character, in its childhood and experience is created for each. All six characters are combined to create the clown.

This technique offers the actor an opportunity to create a clown character beyond the influence of archetype. The clown is personal, with a unique iconography, mythology and imagined environment that can be brought to life on stage. This is especially inspirational for women, who have few classic characters from which to draw.