A little history: The art of using masks in theater dates back to ancient Greece and the worship of Dionysus (you know, the fun one). Followers would don crude coverings to embody gods in rituals. (The Greek term for mask is persona; masks were worn to "personify.") Playwrights Thespis, Aeschylus and Euripides used masks to portray multiple personalities or to illustrate both tragedy and comedy. Blue Lake's own Dell'Arte School teaches the Italian form of commedia dell'arte, which became popular in the 15th century and leans on masks heavily.
Especially for children, wordless, visual storytelling with masks is magical and speaks directly to their emotions. And so, the Arcata Playhouse begins the ninth season of its Family Fun Series with The Middle of Everywhere, by Portland-based theater troupe, Wonderheads (co-founded by three graduates of Dell'Arte), on Friday, Mar. 13 at 7 p.m. and continuing Saturday, Mar. 14 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. ($12, $10). It's the story of a girl and a man and their fantastical journey through time and space. The cast performs in full-face mask, using movement and craft to engage the audience and ignite imaginations. This timeless art form with larger-than-life characters makes for a perfect evening for families and kids of all ages.