Masquerades and the Shadow Self

Halloween is coming. Yes, the chance to dress up in a scratchy plastic mask and run screaming through dark neighborhoods and get free candy.  At least that’s the way I remember it.  But times are different. There used to be hordes of young children, without parents or flashlights or fireproof costumes, roaming the sidewalks experiencing unsupervised tragedies on Halloween.

Halloween was the chance to live out your fantasy of your evil twin, your secret self, your nemesis.

But I had my issues. I had an identical twin sister, and other, cuter siblings, and the wild card – a magical mother who could make any costume come to life. She made costumes for us as skunks, and cows, and Rosie the Maid from the Jetsons, and Pirates, a geisha, and bunnies and a horse that ended up tragically torn in two, and Elvis and a Christmas tree (with presents as feet), and a Black Eyed Susan, (and as my twin sister Susan defiantly explained to everyone “I am not a sunflower”). My mother gave us this idea that we could become anyone – if only with a plastic mask and a bunch of fabric. “Let’s see how this looks,” she would say. This would look like a bunch of fabric bunched up to look like a giant toenail. But somehow, with her imagination and with paint or some trim, or a bunch of buttons, eventually it became a kimono, or a queen’s cape, or a Spanish shawl.

I think this ritual of experiencing other cultures, other costumes, and personas, is a great way to experience the building blocks of theatre. How do you walk in these shoes? What does that wig feel like? That innocence of wanting to become someone else – “What are going to be for Halloween?” What freedom there is in the permission to become someone for a night, a party, a photograph.

Do Zombie’s wear tiaras? I guess I’ll find out this year….

One thought on “Masquerades and the Shadow Self

  1. I’ll always remember a Halloween when my daughter covered herself in yellow balloons and went as a bunch of grapes. The photo still makes me laugh.


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