Smashing the moulds
Turning points in life
It was intimidating - overwhelmingly so - so much so that it took me three months to reach out.
It was intimidating for me. I didn’t see other, older, more experienced people as my equal. Why the hell would an old, seasoned pro with his experience want to talk with an untalented screw up like me.
Rob had toured internationally with award winning mask and movement companies. He had his own show and had others performing it all over North America. I had cast myself into a small version of myself, a small role in the world. Connecting with someone like Rob was outside of my mould.
Rob as it turned out was a great guy. He became a friend, mentor and employer. He taught me a lot about what to do and what not to do as a touring performer. He really showed me the ropes.
He also shared with me his skill as a mask maker. While in theatre school in California, I learned not only mask performance, but mask making as well. Rob helped me take my mask making to places I didn’t know were possible.
We’d hang out and smoke weed and sculpt together. During this time, he taught me how to make plaster moulds of the masks I sculpted. With a mould, I could make multiple copies from one simple sculpture.
I made hundreds of moulds. One month I made thirty one. I created a new mask and mould every day. These masks found their life in Toronto area schools. Some schools even bought class sets so they could continue to teach the unit I delivered to their students. That was a pretty sweet compliment. Over the years, I finished thousands of masks out of poured neoprene latex.
Moving from Toronto to Halifax was an expensive endeavour. I’m not certain but I think we paid around two dollars and fifty cents per pound to move the collection of detritus our family had accumulated over the years. Each mould weighed at lest five pounds.
There were hundreds of moulds - that meant thousands of dollars to move them.
It was time for me to make a new start.
I was opening a therapy practice in Dartmouth.
I didn’t want to continue working in schools.
I didn’t want to be an arts educator anymore.
I didn’t want to be a mask maker either.
The weight of history was too much.
The price of keeping that option was expensive both monetarily and emotionally.
So. One sunny afternoon in May, I took my moulds down from their shelves.
One by one I delighted in slamming them onto the concrete, bashing them with a hammer and stomping them beneath my boots. In a little under an hour, I was able to destroy a decade’s worth of work, clean up the mess, then make it inside for dinner.
It is always easier to destroy something than create it.
But that’s only one part of the point.
It can be liberating to smash the aspects of our selves, of our lives that get in the way of what we are becoming.
The masks were plaster millstones around the neck of my imagination and career. I couldn’t imagine them not being part of my work.
Which was exactly why they needed to go.
These moulds were once precious to me.
But in order to move forward, I needed to smash the moulds I was carrying.
We all have our moulds, places where we hold things, shape things and make magic.
The masks that came from these moulds are still out there in the world. They still get use. Colleagues provide me with photographic evidence every so often. Smashing those molds ended my relationship with my work, with that sense of myself, while others still delight in a legacy part of myself.
The masks from my broken moulds are a gift from my former self to the world.
It’s lovely knowing that the moulds that no longer serve me, and I’ve left behind, still have an impact in the world.
What legacy do you leave behind when you break your moulds?