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Sara with Neutral Mask, Femfest in Winnipeg, 2011.



with Sara Tilley

NEUTRAL MASK is a powerful tool for any creative person – it allows you to simplify, to reconnect to the physical body, and to live in the present moment. The neutral mask pares us down to the essential. It is a beginning place from which to approach any new character or project. This work is benefi­cial to all artists – actors, writers, musicians, dancers, visual artists – as well as to anyone who is curious about mask.

LEVEL I will focus on the essentials for work with the mask. We will use the mask as a clearing tool for the body, to help shed old habits, gestures and postures in order to be ready to take on new experiences. Some work will occur with using the mask to channel new energy.

LEVEL II will take the neutral mask experience further into its application as a sponge for energy and experience. Using the mask to channel different natural energies and to create the foundations for character, this session will build on the work done in Level I. We will look at a variety of ways to use the mask as a springboard for creative expression (you must take Level I first).

Sara Tilley has studied neutral mask with Ian Wallace, Dean Gilmour and Jill Courtney. She is a trained mask teacher, and works with artists and non-artists in Neutral Mask, Pochinko Clown Through Mask and Kinetics.

“Neutral mask allows those who wear it to get in touch with their core being, their most authentic, intuitive self. The mask encourages a sense of wholeness, of physical, emotional, and intellectual centeredness. In the mask one lives in the moment, questioning nothing, yet empowered to make changes as needed. It integrates mind and body, clari­fies impulse and allows the wearer to experience the power and increased presence that come from absolute self-acceptance. Energy that formerly would be wasted on self-doubt and critical comments about a given situation is now used on problem solving. Neutral mask allows you to take off all the other masks.”
- Jan Henderson

Sara is available to teach Neutral Mask on demand. Certain class minimums/maximums may apply.


Clowns go whale-watching on Signal Hill, NL, 2010. Photo by Elling Lien.


Clown through Mask (Pochinko Method) with Sara Tilley

Usually offered once annually in St. John’s, NL.

Available on demand to groups of interested participants, worldwide! It takes a minimum of 50 class hours to complete this training, preferably 60-70. Rate to be negotiated depending on travel requirements, group size, whether materials are included, etc. Contact Sara at to discuss.

Clown through Mask is intended for all types of people – you do not need to be an actor or performer to participate. All you need is curiosity and the willingness to try something new! The work uses mask-making, painting, writing and a variety of physical exercises to open up hidden creative possibilities, and bring us back to an experience of play, impulse, wonder, and limitless potential for expression.

This is a journey toward discovering your own inner clown – transitioning from working with a full face mask that you create yourself into wearing the red clown nose. The focus is on personal exploration and adventure, not on performance as an end goal.

This training is not intended to prepare you for the circus. There are no tricks, no juggling and no stilts involved. Rather, we seek to expose human vulnerability, innocence, and expression through the exploration of clown. This work is a powerful tool for any artist, opening up new avenues of exploration which can be pursued in any medium. Participants do not need to be performers – all that is required is the willingness to experiment, to face yourself honestly, and to move beyond your comfort zone.

Sara Tilley trained with Ian Wallace and Sue Morrison in Pochinko Clown Through Mask technique, and has created many different clown performances in the past fifteen years, ranging from full theatre productions to burlesque numbers to improvised characters who are occasionally seen in public places. In 2008, she trained with Ian Wallace to teach Clown through Mask and Neutral Mask. She is the artistic director of She Said Yes!, and uses the Pochinko work as inspiration not just for clown, but for acting, directing, writing and design. Sara has taught clown and Neutral Mask in St. John’s, Vancouver, Dawson City, Winnipeg, Calgary, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and coastal Labrador.

What previous students have said:

“Sara Tilley’s clown through mask workshop was truly one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. It pushed me to places that were initially uncomfortable, but within the intimate group experience Sara facilitates it is easy to let ones’ guard down and embrace the zany, wacky, weird, and unusual.” -Stephen Quinlan

“The freedom I felt allowed me to do anything and everything! It’s almost like there was a part of me that came to life for the first time.  In my own writing, acting and dancing, these workshops have helped unlock ideas and a creative energy.  On a personal level, I think it’s opened my eyes to the beauty of everything that surrounds me. Sara is a fantastic teacher and guide. Her encouragement and spirit are so welcoming and freeing, she really makes you excited about the work.” -Mark White

“Thank you for generously sharing this work which is so sacred and close to your heart. You created a magical space and a place safe enough to experiment. The clown workshop has changed the way I experience a moment, the way I imagine the shape and texture of world, what my body is and how I inhabit it. It was scary at times, but mostly thrilling. Thanks for inviting me into your world!” – Bryhanna Greenough

“Anyone who views art and theatre as a mode of free and informed creative expression will see great value in the Pochinko Clown Through Mask process.This work is excellent training for the expression of true voice.” -Ryan Davis

“After the first class I realized that this course would have a profound effect on my life. I felt like parts of me were breaking out of cement; deep cement that encased many emotions that were difficult to access. I was both physically and mentally exhausted. It was the best I felt in ages. This course requires commitment to face uncomfortable emotions and to celebrate good ones. It is a roller coaster of crying and laughing and truly feeling alive. This translated to renewed fresh motivation in my visual art practice and in my life in general. I highly recommend it to everyone in the world.” -Annette Manning