Amazing Mask Changing Skills

[caption id="attachment_28329" align="aligncenter" width="410" caption="Photo: Futurestar Entertainment Group"]Photo: Futurestar Entertainment Group[/caption]

Mask Changing (or Face Changing) is an ancient Chinese tradition in theater, used to indicate a character's shift in mood and demeanor.  Accompanied by fan flourishes and other methods of obscuring the actor's face, masks are changed with lightning speed.  He Hongqing is considered one of the best.  Check out the video at BBC.


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That's sort of neat, but after you find out the changeable part of the mask is a painted silk cover, and that the performer uses a mechanically-triggered system to change masks, the "secret" comes down to whether the changed mask is being pulled up or down into the performer's elaborate headdress.

The rest is reasonable engineering and well-practiced staging. Playing up the "secret" is playing up the least interesting part of the art.
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If you find this interesting, track down the movie "King Of Masks", a wonderful Chinese film. The story revolves around a master of Mask Changing and the orphan he adopts to pass his skills on to.
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