Theatrical Mask Maker
Renowned theatrical mask maker Gina Bastone passed away last night after a long illness. She was with family and friends. Gina was an inspiration to many mask makers. Her character masks were deceptively simple in shape but rich and complex in expression. A mask can be a beautiful sculpture but a theatrical mask must be more than that. A theatrical character mask has the same job as an actor, to show the audience what kind of person this character is and to be able to express a range of emotion. Gina’s masks had the sculptural economy of Basel masks and were able to express a multitude of feelings and personalities. While at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre she created a mask based on a Maurice Sand illustration of a Commedia Zanni character. I think it was Scaramuccia. The mask had a large bulbous nose and an expression of befuddled stupidity. The mask became known as Stupino.Stupino is not a traditional Commedia character. Many modern mask makers including myself, Joe and Minna Dieffenbacher, Newman and others have created a Stupino mask inspired by Gina’s mask.
In my classes on mask making and Commedia performance I would talk about Gina’s mask. It is an example of how Commedia Dell’Arte is a living, evolving art form. It is not frozen in a different century, a long time ago. Gina created a new Commedia character that gained popularity with modern Commedia artists. Stupino is now a part of the canon of stock Commedia characters. Gina Bastone is a part of Commedia Dell’Arte history which spans many centuries.
Many thanks, Gina for your art and life. Rest in Parti Comico. May 26, 2021.
– Alyssa Ravenwood, Ravenwood Masks
Top photo: Downtown Eastside Romeo and Juliet (2008). Produced by Vancouver Moving Theatre – Gina Bastone Director and Mask Designer. Artistic Director Savannah Walling. Written by Gina Bastone and the ensemble, with advice from William Shakespeare. Music Director, Dorothy Dittrich. Costume Diva, Marina Szijarto
TOP L-R: Gena Thomson, Priscillia Tait, Yvon-Paul Chartrand, Fred Galloway, Jim Sands.
MIDDLE L-R: Mike Richter, Wendy Chew, Elizabeth Murdoch (sitting in for Kuei-Ming Lin), Gina Bastone, Savannah Walling, Muriel Williams
BOTTOM: Grant Chancey
David Cooper photo