I’ve always been interested in masks from my very first drama lessons when we studied the ancient players from Greece who would play certain stock characters and rely on exaggerated theatrical gestures to compensate for the lack of facial expression. I found something really interesting about the ‘permission’ to act differently that you are given as soon as you put on a mask and hide your own face; something that allows you to step out of your own skin and ‘be’ someone else is always going to be interesting.
Masks have always been important in human history and used across the world in funerals, religious rites, celebration, theatre and battle. They are practically as old as humans first recorded uses of pottery and clay and remain at the core of costume and pretending. We have been exposed to them since we were very young and are probably too familiar to really sit down and think about them.
There is of course something very creepy and distrustful invoked by masks simply because the face is obscured. Who is this person in front of me their eyes laughing in the semi darkness? Sunglasses of course are un nerving and shifty because they rob you of the expression in someone’s eyes therefore masks can be scary for the opposite reason when all you can see that is human of someone is their eyes. You only have to think back to when you first saw pictures of the masked heavy metal troupe from Iowa that call themselves Slipknot to realise the intensity masks still offer.
Many psychologists including Jung have written extensively about the concept of ‘persona’ and the mask we wear every day to hide our true inner self from those around us. Jung also proposed that there is a dark side to the personality, well-know to the field of psychology as the shadow. It includes both repressed, instinctual feelings and untapped potential. To me, the shadow is not just the “evil” opponent of persona, but is also imagination and creativity left behind or forgotten because of sensible or supposedly good adult behaviour that most of us adhere to in modern times. We make a conscious effort in Rogue to bring you back a little bit of that childhood and to show you that it really is ok to be yourself; creativity keeps us young, happy and open minded and playing with Barbie dolls, space hoppers toy cars and masks allow us to be open and ridiculous with less fear of being judged or thought of negatively. At their core masks allow us to be someone else even if that person is actually just ourselves uninhibited.
I guess that Rogue is in part about escapism and a loss of inhibition as it provides a chance for us all to go a little crazy, to get outside of ourselves and push a little harder knowing that we can hide behind our masks, hide a little in amongst all the people around us who are also here to get away with being silly. We wish to encourage you all to be yourselves or anyone else you want to be, to dress up and be exotic and different, to make beautiful costumes that inspire, arouse and intrigue, to dance without convention or self awareness and to know that all around you everyone else is too.
This Halloween party just gone was wonderful in terms of costume and we thank you all for making such an effort, where else in Herts can you see 7 foot tall Grim Reapers on stilts hobnobbing with Mexican bandits? However we wish to remind you that mask and costume are not just for Halloween and will be received with open arms (no matter how ridiculous your outfit is) at each and every one of our parties. You might even win a prize.
So for future reference please continue to dress to impress and if you don’t like the attention you can always wear a mask so no one knows it’s you.
words by Matt ‘Red’ Turner.
photos of Rogue’s Dia De Los Muertos Halloween Party by Gavin Felgate.
This article contains an excerpt from The Healing Arts by Cathy Malchiodi.
If you want to see pictures of what the hell I’m talking about then please feel free to have a mosey around our facebook site.