When Marin Shakespeare chose this new adaptation of DON QUIXOTE, Director Lesley Currier knew she wanted to perform with masks, as originally intended by the authors. Lesley talked to a couple of different mask makers but none of them felt like “the right fit.” As summer drew nearer, she called Ron Campbell on a Monday in late February to ask if he knew any local maskmakers, but he didn’t.
The next morning, Ron contacted Lesley with exciting news. At his Monday Night Clown Jam the night before, there was an actor who was working on a mask show with fellow actor/maskmaker David Poznanter. He had brought a couple masks from the show and they were spectacular. Lesley immediately contacted David and knew he was perfect for DON QUIXOTE.
A modern day Renaissance man, 36-year old Poznanter travels the globe for his busy and diverse artistic career which includes theatrical and performance professions of circus arts and acrobatics, music, dance, acting and mask making.
Within hours of completing the long process of creating more than 30 handmade theatrical masks for Marin Shakespeare Company’s summer production of DON QUIXOTE, David boarded a plane bound for Europe, where he’s currently touring in the 2015 summer production of BOOM!” My career is based on about 15 years of higher education in the arts,” said Poznanter, who studied with world famous mask maker Matteo Destro from 2013 to 2014 at Helikos: International School of Theatre Creation in Florence, Italy.
“Matteo is a brilliant teacher. He helps you to figure out your approach and style. He’s the most artistic teacher I’ve ever had, because he encourages you to develop your own style,” said Poznanter. “Matteo does not believe in copyright – only copy less.”
Poznanter’s long process of designing and creating the masks for DON QUIXOTE began in San Rafael back in February 2015. He made a positive mold of each actors’ face. Then he created masks from clay molds and papier mache. Poznanter took great pains to fit each mask to the actor so that actors could reveal their various characters with their eyes and have the freedom to vocally project.
“The biggest challenge is that DON QUIXOTE is presented in Forest Meadows, a large outdoor amphitheater. I had to design the masks with consideration for daytime and nighttime performance lighting and with consideration for the audiences sitting in the front row or at the back of the theater. The distance of the audience was a big issue when painting each mask. Painting for the eyes is crucial,” said Poznanter.
After molds are completed, masks are made out of paper mache, then each mask is coated by hand with spackling paste. Acrylic paint was applied to each mask to define the various characters. Poznanter completed the masks in mid-June and the company had them starting with the first rehearsal.
“The actor’s face should disappeare so that the character is able to emerge – that’s the magic,” said Poznanter.
“What we love about Don Quixote is his imagination. So the joy and exciting part of creating masks for this show is that I allowed myself to go into his imaginary world. It makes it a neat process to help audiences see through his eyes,” said Poznanter.
Poznanter will still be touring in Europe when DON QUIXOTE takes the stage, but his devotion to storytelling and the craft and artistry of his mask making will have a major presence at Forest Meadows Amphitheatre.