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Neutral Mask Communication


Students will demonstrate an ability to communicate emotion and story by physically portraying a character in a neutral mask story presentation.


Materials Needed

Neutral masks, music for underscoring


Lesson Directions

Ask someone in the class to remind everyone about the storyline of “Little Red Riding Hood”.



Step 1 (Group Practice) Ask for four volunteers to perform a neutral mask exercise. Tell them that they will be performing the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Remind students of the conventions of a neutral mask and that these scenes are silent. Assign the Students characters. Little Red, the Wolf, the Woodsman, and the Grandmother. Then ask the students to perform the scene, completely improvised. Tell them to make it short and simple, they are not to try and entertain the audience but to just tell the story/ and embody the emotions of the character.

Step 2: (Discussion): Ask the class what the actors did well. Were you able to understand their emotions? Could you tell what story they were trying to tell? What could have made the story more understandable? Encourage students to clarify the scene by adding more distinct character walks, by fixing blocking problems and cheating out, and by adding more details to the story.

Step 3 (Guided Practice/Discussion): Have the group of four actors perform the scene again for the class. Ask the class how the actors improved the story the second time. What made that performance more interesting than the first one?

Step 4: (Guided Practice):  Have the four students perform the scene one last time, but this time turn on some music to underscore the story. Ask the students what they thought of the music.

Step 5 (Transition): What we just did is how you could go about doing your story assignment. You can first choose a story, then characters, and then add a piece of music that fits. Make sure that the way you act out your story makes sense to other people. You can even have the teacher or other groups watch you to see what is unclear about your story .

Step 6 (Instructions/ Group Practice):

Give more specific instruction about the assignment. The teacher will break students into groups of four. Each group will need to come up with

  1. A story- recognizable to the class (Fairytales, legends, classic story lines)
  2. Characters within that story who embody specific emotions. These emotions can change but what is the dominant emotion of your character?
  3. Tell the story with your bodies, mask, and with music. Do not speak. Find a way to represent physically what you are trying to say.  Choose a piece of music that fits the mood of your story.

Universal Story Ideas or Fairy Tales

  1. Little Red Riding Hood.
  2. Cinderella
  3. The Three Bears
  4. Hansel and Gretel
  5. Jack and Jill
  6. Romeo and Juliet
  7. Unrequited Love
  8. Boy Meets Girl, they fall in love, happily ever after.
  9. David and Goliath.


Students will perform a 3-5 minute story with neutral masks for the rest of the class, using their bodies to create emotions and portray characters. Allow the class to give feedback to their peers’ performances.


Author's Notes

Prior knowledge recommended: Brief overview of neutral masks.

This lesson is suggested to be included in a 'character-development' unit.