mask workshop with LARRY HUNT of connecticut’s masque theatre, at bartram’s garden

during krampuslauf 2014, this amazing mask showed up — with the friend of the mom of one of our lux arati dancers.

burlap mask by deborah glassberg
burlap mask by deborah glassberg

i got in contact with her later and asked her about this technique. she had learned it from larry hunt of connecticut’s masque theatre. i got in touch with larry and it turned out he was one of these magical people of the type we keep running into in the krampuslauf philadelphia world — really laid back, happy to come to philly to teach people the technique, and, really, like all of our visiting artists so far, pretty amazing, even before we met him.

we are able to lure people here in part because we have a couple of core krampuslauf mamas who have amazing, warm, fascinating homes and are usually quite ready to open them to interesting new people. larry and his wife jennifer came to stay at linda’s place. we had dinner with them the night before and knew just from that experience that the workshop was going to be fantastic.

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linda had ALSO gotten us into a new location! beautiful bartram’s garden. it was fun to have a new space to explore and we had a nice full house, with not just KP:POS friends and family but folks from the greater philadelphia area puppetry guild, and carnival de resistance, in attendance.

larry’s technique was fascinating.

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we had a very generous pot luck lunch and while our masks dried some in the sun, larry did some improvisational performance for us.

 

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while larry was between characters, he told an anecdote that made some of us go “WHOA.” i asked him to elaborate in an email later:

“I was at a conference in Turku, Finland.  The scholars were investigating Northern Scandinavian Mask Rituals from previous eras.  18-19th centuries approximately, maybe even before.

These winter celebrations had many elements.  Group participation in the winter which also gave them something to do.  Some areas had myths they would revisit in physical form.  Disguise and discovery and rebirth elements.  Most, if not all of the celebrations, were adult oriented including high schoolers as adults.  Disguise was a key element and unveiling of the mysteries was keen.  Food and drink were always involved.

However, times changed.  I think with the advent of electricity, radio and then television with movies, the winter celebrations were usurped. Slowly, not overnight.
Some became quite cliquish in that only certain districts of a town involved the celebrations.
To keep the traditions somewhat alive, they evolved into children’s celebrations and school parties and the evening aspects dissipated.  Our Halloween became quite a popular substitution but the characters became store bought Spiderman types instead of local hand made myths or legends.  So the rituals, which took much time to prepare for, became easily accessible for a few pence and virtually no effort.  Thus when rituals become childrens’ celebrations, the intent of the original times changed with much less community involvement.  One disguise element was a sort of passing of the baton.  High schoolers would impersonate even local people and later, as adults, they would be impersonated and have to do the guessing.
At least that was my take on the discussions which covered a vast area and not limited to Northern Scandinavian countries.”
THAT is food for thought.
back to the workshop. things were drying! then there was embellishing!

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we really hope that larry and jennifer come back to philly for krampuslauf!

here is the whole photo set on flickr.

and, because linda did so much to make this happen — this graphic, courtesy of jen!

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(and, to be honest, jen is pretty much on the hook to make her krampus s’mores bites this december, maybe to have at the welcome center for krampuslauf…?)

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