The Art Of The Masque


The Renaissance origins of the masque were probably in masked processions visiting noble houses. Later, it developed into a more elaborate performance with a scripted plot, often about mythological or allegorical subjects, of the sort we see in Shakespeare's The Tempest or read about in Cervantes' Don Quixote. The art form reached its height in 17th century England, as practiced by authors like Ben Jonson and John Milton; designers like Inigo Jones; and composers like Thomas Campion, Henry and William Lawes, Matthew Locke, John Blow, and – perhaps greatest of all – Henry Purcell. The spirit of the masque has inspired later writers as well, from Thomas Arne's Alfred in the 18th century (origin of the song 'Rule, Britannia!') to Ralph Vaughan Williams' Job in the 20th century, and on to present-day Canada.

The appeal of the masque goes well beyond its aristocratic origins and its historical interest. It's accessible to all who appreciate innovative, interdisciplinary collaborations. This unique combination of multiple artistic media is fertile ground for artists and audiences seeking friendly collaboration and dedicated professionalism. Toronto Masque Theatre is a company of emerging and established artists from many disciplines and backgrounds, whose sense of shared community reaches out to include their audience in the excitement of creation and performance. We are rooted in the traditions of the masque and we bring those traditions to life in fresh, new ways for contemporary audiences.