The Playful Body: Larval Mask Training

Larval Masks originate from the winter carnival of Basel, Switzerland, and were first used in actor training by Jacques Lecoq. Larval masks are an excellent training tool for actors to explore how emotional states, character types and narrative can be communicated through the actor’s body, movement and physicality in the empty space. 

The masks are large, abstract and clear in shape – this encourages the actor to articulate and amplify the movement, leave the ‘naturalistic’ timing and enter the enhanced theatrical dimension needed to bring the masks to life whilst stimulating the actor’s imagination, playfulness, complicity and a sense of wonder.


Day 1 will focus on the introduction to the Larval Mask. Through a range of ensemble and individual improvisation exercises participants will research the physicality, timing, emotion and movement of the Larval masks, discovering the typical behaviour as well as well as the counter-mask (contrasting behavior). 

Day 2 will explore the masks’ behaviour in the context of dramatic situations. Participants will focus on the ways in which the masks can be used as an inspiration for a further narrative/character development. During the second part of the workshop participants will devise a short scene which will be presented at the end of the workshop.


Bristol Physical Theatre Project’s workshops are aimed at performers and artists of various disciplines who would like to widen their performing and performance making skills. The project’s approach to theatre making has a strong emphasis on movement and physicality and concentrates on the idea that the performer’s creative impulse is crucial in the process of collective theatre creation. 

All BPTP workshops are open to everyone regardless of their experience. So, whether you are an experienced performer or a beginner, you will be both encouraged, supported and challenged.


Larval Masks are an excellent tool for actors and performers of various disciplines. They allow the performer to amplify the physical expression and expand the dimension of movement, gesture, emotion and space, laying a key foundation for mask and character acting. As the facial expression is covered, a more significant emphasis falls on the body and on what’s communicated non-verbally, in silence. This requires the actor to be more playful, imaginative and receptive. Through the use of the masks, the actor enters a poetic dimension of movement, timing and space and becomes ready to perform a range of emotional states, dramas and conflicts through the body.

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