We are happy to announce that Mike Chase is going to return to Open Space with another mask-using workshop in summer this time with another set of archetypes in the shape of Masks of the Seven Planets.
The seven planets are archetypes imbued with rich mythology and contemporary relevance. The planets visible to the naked eye are: Mars and Venus, the archetypes of the masculine and feminine; Jupiter and Mercury, the archetypes of the king and the trickster; and Moon and Saturn the archetypes of heredity and destiny; and the Sun, the centre around which the others orbit.
The idea to work with the theme of the seven planets came up shortly after the interview with Mike Chase at the end of his stay in Prague last summer. In the interview published in the Czech Journal of Waldorf Education Mike speaks quite extensively about these archetypes and their cosmologies and how they can be explored both in mask-using and mask-making work.
Here is an extract from the interview:
And how is it with the seven planets – like with the temperaments you have the four and they all make a whole because each of us has them present to some extend… But with the planets how does that work?
Both the temperaments and the seven planets are cosmologies, they are ordered wholes. Where as the Temperaments are in the rhythm of four, connecting to the constitution and life body, the planets have a different rhythm of seven, and they connect to the thinking, feelings and wiling as polarities within the soul. What I found very helpful with the planetary work is to explore the three polarities of Moon and Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter and Venus and Mars. There are different polarities of the planets, but this a helpful starting point. Then you’ve got the Sun as the capacity of the ego to integrate extreme tendencies within the soul.
When using the planet masks in the Hero’s Journey work with young adults with complex needs we usually begin with the masculine and the feminine, the male and the female principle encapsulated by Mars and Venus. In exploring Venus we use the catch phrase: welcome, I accept you as you are. This unconditional state of openness is one end of a spectrum of relational experience. On the other end of the spectrum, Mars says: wake up it’s time to change! The planets work another level deeper into the soul than the temperaments as they encapsulate the domain of soul and spirit. Between the phase of human development from fourteen to twenty one the astral body is incarnating, comprised of the vast and powerful forces of the planets.
Interestingly, the Planets connect to the Commedia dell’ Arte. Harlequine is connected to the playful archetype Mercury, and the Doctor is very much like thoughtful Jupiter, and Saturn is like Pantalone, and Magnifico is more like the dark Saturn or Mars. Then you have Capitano and Brighella who are much more in the fighting vein of Mars and then the beautiful unmasked folk type of Colombina who is very much like Venus… The Sun may be considered as the Capo Comico, the unmasked leader of the Commedia dell’ Arte troop, whose role it was to hold it all together.
There are so many aspects to it and one thing we haven’t spoken about is the whole area of mask making…
Yes, because the mask has two sides, the outside created by the mask maker and the inside which the performer embodies when they put on the mask. Mask making is like alchemy. It is the Alchemy of taking hold of substance and imprinting something into it, with all the processes that the alchemist goes through. These processes correspond to the seven planets. The Moon is where we gather all the data about the mask that needs to be made. The Mercury process comes in with drawing, modelling marquette’s and moving in the manner of the mask to be made. Venus is the process of searching for beauty, even in ugliness. The Sun is the process of integrating all the different aspects which have been brought to the table. Mars is the process in mask making of cutting through all the sentimental traps, Jupiter finding symmetry and balance, the perfect mean, and Saturn is the process of finding the essence, without compromise. These stages can happen in different sequences, but if any are left out there is danger of falling prey to sentiment and demeaning the human being with ugliness and hatred.
Applications for the mask-using workshop exploring the theme of the Seven Planets available at Masks of the Seven Planets Workshop. The number of participants is limited so if you are interested do apply early!
About Mike Chase
Mike has been working in the field of theatre and therapy for the past 30 years, as a teacher, director, Artistic Director, mask maker and Psychodramatist. He was born in South Africa and has been living in the UK since 1984. For the last 15 years he has been working predominantly with young adults with complex needs and most recently with serious offenders at a special therapeutic prison setting. He has been fascinated by the effectiveness of masks in teaching skills for life, and in supporting individuals in personal and professional development.
He has a degree in educational research focusing on drama arising out of anthroposophy. He is an accredited psychodrama psychotherapist and is writing a series of books on mask making and using in the context of education, therapy and personal and professional development. His book Mask – Making Using and Performing has been just published in UK by Hawthorn Press and can be ordered at Mask the Book.