“The Tricks of the Trade” by Dario Fo

Mask as a Megaphone

The first task is to establish the reasons for the forms and designs of the masks. The mouth constitutes a kind of megaphone, an implement which, plainly, amplifies the voice. It is worthwhile recalling the sheer scale of the Greek theatre, which could hold up to 20,000 spectators. The voice was projected and amplified thanks to the funnel form of the open mouth. All masks are constructed in such a way that every form contributes, on the inside (by means of cavities which on the outside appear to be bumps), to the production of special, varied sound vibrations. I could show you a Zanni mask in which the megaphone is created by a mechanism which holds the lip in a raised position. If I put it on, thanks to the special opening which holds the frame a good three inches away from the mouth, the volume of my vocal output is increased twofold, especially in the deeper tones, because, to establish his personality, this character requires low, sinister tones.

Fo, Dario. The Tricks of the Trade. Ed. Stuart Hood. New York: Routledge, 1991. Print.
zanni right angle noface tan

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