When the term drama mask is brought up is it most common to think of the classic face of terror and face of laughter that has become a symbol of the theater. While certain parts of the world have their own version of drama masks, these particular masks started in ancient Greece, and were both a relation to their faith as well as an easier way of displaying raw emotion. While mainly being a symbol now and almost never seen within production, the masks back then were frequently used to display strong emotions or to show female characters as it was forbidden for a female to participate in plays back then. They also allowed those who were sitting farther away to still see what emotion was on the actors face due to the fact that they were typically enlarged.The mask that is depicted as laughing and represents comedy, relates to Thalia. Thalia was known as the muse of festivity and is commonly shown with the comedy mask. Melpomene was the muse of tragedy and was frequently seen carrying the mask of tragedy.The definition of tragedy has greatly changed over time. While the design of the mask does not really help its case, tragedy meant serious more than it meant unfortunate events. While being popularized by the greek, drama masks have existed anywhere in the world where plays take place.
Drama masks can be fashioned out of nearly anything but the most frequently used materials are paper mache or wood. The masks all vary in complexity and design as they are used to represent different characters of emotions. The style of the masks differ from one culture to another. Typically the masks were used for the antagonist of the play as in most stories the villain is not human or is so wicked that their face has been exaggerated and warped. While most drama masks exist to show emotion, a particular form of mask called a Noh mask from Japan aims to accomplish the exact opposite. They are made as expressionless as possible, and attempt to have the actors show what kind of emotions that masks are supposed to portray. There are still design aspects that have importance however, such as the colors representing different things. Such as a red being considered a hero’s color, while black is reserved for the villains. In cases of expertly crafted Noh masks, they are made with very small details that can appear to help portray an emotion depending on the movements of the actors while still appearing expressionless most of the time.
In Europe, drama masks were used for telling exaggerated stories of the past or of popular children’s tales. The main serious occasion for drama masks was used during depictions of the Bible, typically to personify things such as the 7 deadly sins or angels and demons. Masks have been mostly replaced by make-up and other effects in modern day plays but they still have their roles from time to time.
Atlas comes from similar stories as the greek gods Melpomene and Thalia
Helmet worn by the greek soldiers