Gallery Launches Online Exhibit of Theatrical Masks From Stratford Festival Archives
Following an unprecedented response to their first online art exhibit, the St. Marys Station Gallery is presenting a second online exhibit, ‘MASKS,’ as the COVID-19 restrictions continue. ‘MASKS’ is a comprehensive collection of two dozen masks created by celebrated designers and prop makers for historic shows at the Stratford Festival Theatre. Some masks date back to 1954 and have not been seen since the original productions.
‘MASKS’ is the second collaboration of the St. Marys Station Gallery and the Stratford Festival Archives. Curator Cameron Porteous partnered with now-retired Archives Director Liza Giffen and current Archives Director GiannaMaria Babando to select and collect the image and history of each mask.
The result is an exciting cross-section of theatre history showing the changing styles and mask-making techniques of the past 70 years. Featured designers include Susan Benson, Theresa Przybyiski, and Christina Poddubiuk. Favourite Shakespearean characters like Bottom, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (1989 & 1993), Juliet, ‘Romeo And Juliet’ (1997 & 2008) and Demetrius, ‘Titus Andronicus’ (1985) are included in the collection.
Of especial interest are masks from Oedipus Rex (1954 & 1994). Staged by Sir Tyrone Guthrie in 1954, Tanya Moiseiwitsch designed the original production and remounted the production in 1994 with assistance from John Leberg. Prop makers Ken Dubblestyne, Jennifer Macdonald, and Heather Ruthig, all local residents, created the masks for the 1994 production. “The actors were masked throughout the show, so they had to be comfortable and lightweight. I learned so much from watching Ken and Jennifer that year. I had the privilege of making the suppliants masks which were for supporting characters. This was very exciting for me,” recalls Heather Ruthig.
Viewers can enjoy the virtual exhibit of ‘MASKS’ now at www.stmarysstationgallery.ca.
The collection will be displayed at the St. Marys Station Gallery on June 4th, 2021.