How to Make a Roman Theatre Mask

Written by ruth o'neil
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How to Make a Roman Theatre Mask
In ancient Rome, theatre was a big part of the entertainment. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

In ancient Rome, theatre was a big part of the entertainment. During these plays the Romans always wore masks. The masks were often larger than life, but this helped the audience see the faces from far away. Different masks included different facial expressions. Even though men played all the parts, the masks allowed the audience to determine if the character was a woman by wearing a white mask or a man by wearing a brown mask. You too can make your own masks reminiscent of Rome whether you want to use them in an actual play or as decorations.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Blank masks
  • Paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Feathers
  • Faux hair
  • Hot glue gun
  • Awl
  • Measuring tape
  • Elastic string

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  1. 1

    Start with the basic mask and decide if you want to make a man or a woman mask. Paint the entire face of the mask brown if you want a man or leave the white base if you want to make a woman character.

  2. 2

    Paint your facial expressions on the masks. Make the typical happy, sad and angry faces, which were popular among Roman Thespians. Paint the expressions on the masks in different layers if necessary.

  3. 3

    Allow each layer of paint to dry before adding the next layer so that the different colours of paint do not mix. Use plenty of bright colours of paint as this is more typical of Roman theatre masks.

  4. 4

    Decorate the masks using feathers and faux hair. Attach these to the masks by using a hot glue gun. Arrange the decorations on the mask first to make sure you have the correct placement and that you will like the finished look.

  5. 5

    Allow the glue to dry completely before moving the mask. Make sure to remove any strings left from the hot glue.

  6. 6

    Poke one hole in either side of the mask where you can attach the elastic string. Use the awl to gently make the holes.

  7. 7

    Measure all the way around your head and take half of the measurement to get the necessary size to cut the elastic string.

  8. 8

    Insert the ends of the elastic string into each hole. Tie off the ends to keep them from slipping out.

Tips and warnings

  • Do this as an activity with your kids as a great rainy day activity. They can make a variety of masks and then put on a play for family and friends.
  • If you are having trouble getting the holes in the mask, place the side of the mask on a cutting board so you do not damage your work surface and then attempt to make another hole.

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