Masks of Manipulation

Masks of Manipulation Workshop—Emma’s Take

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HI THERE! Let me introduce myself! My name is Emma Bulpin, a 23 year-old artist, working as an intern at Mixed Company Theatre. I graduated with a B.A. in Dramatic Arts and Journalism at Brock University.

This past week was great because Mixed Company Theatre was hosting their Masks of Manipulation workshop for two days and yours truly got to attend. It was an eye opening experience because this workshop explored our interaction with different types of manipulation and how it can be used to get what you want. What I found interesting was the diverse backgrounds of people attending these workshops: teachers, social workers… At first, I was a little shocked to discover people outside of performance arts would have an interest in a theatre workshop… Clearly I was wrong. I was suddenly slapped in the face with a mental image of MCT’s mandate:

“Mixed Company Theatre produces innovative, socially relevant drama as a tool for positive change — ”

Masks of Manipulation

So, of course people from different professions were joining this workshop! It was inspiring. I discovered the different types of manipulation and how it can affect us. Simon Malbogat, MCT’s Artistic Director, uses Commedia Dell’Arte masks to explore the types of manipulation in a performative way. The first day, we got on our feet and analyzed different body types. As I discovered how these body types took over my physicality and what it was like to live in these different physical worlds, I began to match the masks of manipulation to its physical shape. Not only did this workshop give me a name for each type of manipulation, but it also gave me a shape and image of what to be alert for when these masks show up in my everyday life – you would be surprised – they are everywhere.

The second day, Simon had us do a lot of different exercises with our eyes closed, which played with being in control vs. being controlled. I felt that it gave the collective an unspoken trust and helped us further delve into manipulation and its affects. Not only was I beginning to name the types of manipulation, but I was also giving them faces and relating them to my own experiences. I was starting to think that everything was about manipulation and everyone was being manipulated. It was important to me to understand that manipulation is not necessarily a negative thing, but to be aware of its negativity upon people.

For each mask the group explored, we discovered its characteristics through improv and different theatre techniques. It was fascinating to watch how manipulation can use different tactics to get what it wants and how emotional discipline can defuse its negative impact. As the workshop came to an end, the group gathered around in a closing circle and shared their thoughts and experiences. Overall, MCT did what it does best—they engaged, educated, and empowered.

Project Boomerang

Call for Multi-Disciplinary Artists—Mixed Company Theatre’s Emerging Artist Program

Are you a multi-disciplinary artist looking to develop and create a collective creation with a professional theatre company? We are interested in using an artistic lens to dissect the boomerang phenomenon as well as other issues facing Generation Y’s ability to succeed. Project Boomerang—MCT’s first Emerging Arts Program will be investigating some of the following questions:

• Are today’s post-grads expectations unrealistic?
• Where is the line between paying your dues and being exploited?
• Are these young adults lazy and ungrateful?
• Is staying or returning home a sign of failure?
• Does a degree hold any weight in the search for employment?

MCT is looking to cast 8-10 artists. There will be an honorarium for all participants. Artist must be able to commit to the following:

Rehearsals –Will take place at Mixed Company Theatre once a week from 6:00-9:00PM, Sept 3rd to Jan 31st, 2013.
Public Reading—Thurs, Nov 28th 2013.
Gala Performance—Perform in a showcase at the MCT Gala, date TBD, the week of Dec 3rd-7th, 2013.
Workshop Performance—A workshop performance during the week of Jan 26th-Feb 1st, 2014.
Festival Submission—There will be a post mortem in Feb 2014, at which point MCT will look into the possibility of participating in festivals.

Additional rehearsals will be expected during the week of the Reading, Gala and Workshop Performance. Please do not submit if you are unable to commit to these dates.

Audition/Interview Information
We are looking for versatile artists who are interested in developing a collective creation. We are looking for artists who have experience in: Writing, performing, directing, producing, designing, stage managing, dance, video, multimedia, or music.

Please come prepared with a 5 min piece that showcases your artistic abilities and talents. It could be a monologue, poem, movement piece, song, or sample of your writing —something that highlights your creativity! Do not feel bound by our description; we encourage all artists who are looking to work collectively to apply.

Please send a photo and resume to Those selected will be contacted for an audition/interview which will take place during the week of August 19th 2013.
Submissions close Aug 9th, 2013.

Life Gets in the Way Rehearsal

Life Gets in the Way, a First Impression by Carli Fink

Life Gets in the Way RehearsalBeing brand new to MCT, I had no concept of what to expect when walking into Tuesday morning’s rehearsal for Life Gets in the Way. My first observation was the people around me: two MCT staff, a very tall musician, and six senior citizens already joking with one another.

I quickly learned that Rex Deverell, a Chalmers award winning playwright, wrote the show and five senior performers plus MCT’s Artistic Project Manager starred in the show. While helping to set up, I caught them doing warm-ups and running line drills; their jokes made me chuckle, and their eagerness inspired me. Each was so friendly towards me, the newcomer, and seemed so comfortable with the many characters they portrayed.

The show itself is a collection of scenes conveying different elements of life as an older adult, and it begins and ends with the titular song “Life Gets in the Way” which has stuck in my head since first listen. Life Gets in the Way provides a forum for discussing the issues facing senior communities, including memory loss, technological difficulties, and institutionalization among others.

My two days in rehearsal were filled with laughter and learning, an interest in Mixed Company Theatre and its work come alive in a celebration of seniority. The people I’ve met thus far are nothing short of wonderful – welcoming, talented, and engaging – and I can’t wait to see what they do next. I trust they will continue to dispel the myths surrounding old age. Until then, I’ll keep humming “Life Gets in the Way.”

Carli Fink is a volunteer at Mixed Company Theatre and is currently completing her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Queen’s University.