Helen Barnett, Trestle’s Creative Director, tells us a bit more about what to expect from brand new exhibition Behind the Mask which has recently opened in St Albans. Celebrating 40 years of Trestle’s rich history, Helen talks to us about favourite memories and the return to in-person events.
Can you tell us a bit more about Trestle?
Trestle is a mask and physical theatre company. We make and export our masks to companies and educational institutions around the world and deliver high-quality training and workshops to theatre-makers, teachers and schoolchildren. We also run Trestle Arts Base in St Albans as a hub for our work and other community arts programmes. Through our internationally renowned mask and physical theatre practice, we aim to open upopportunities for everyone to engage with the arts, unleash their creativity, and increase confidence and general wellbeing through participation.
What can visitors expect from going to see Behind the Mask?
Behind The Mask is a whistle-stop tour of the history of the Company, charting the extraordinary theatre and education work we’ve achieved over the last four decades. It will cover everything from past shows and the development of our mask sets to the stories of those working with Trestle now. Visitors can expect a behind the scenes glimpse into our work, the making of our masks and a look back at some of the wonderful shows and projects we’ve developed over the years. We hope the exhibition will give an insight into the range of our work and the different elements it takes to develop such a rich history.
What’s your favourite Trestle memory which you’ve unearthed for the exhibition?
One of the hardest things about curating the exhibition has been trying to capture as much as possible from across the forty years. One of the biggest things that has moved me has been seeing the sheer amount of work that we have produced consolidated in one place which makes picking one memory really difficult! If you pushed me I’d say it’s not one specific memory but hearing how people describe Trestle has been the most heart-warming. The most common thing that has come up has been people describing Trestle and the Arts Base as a company and space that welcomes creativity in a safe and supportive way allowing those that create here, from all walks of life, to be open and playful and I am really proud for that to be part of our legacy.
What might you say to someone who is feeling a bit nervous about returning to events in person?
St Albans Museum and Gallery have done a wonderful job of ensuring that all the government guidelines are being followed as they reopen their spaces and exhibitions, including ours. They have worked closely with us to ensure that all the interactive elements are Covid secure and that the exhibition can be enjoyed in the safest way possible so I feel that you are in safe hands on entering their building. However, I also very much appreciate that not everyone will feel comfortable returning to in-person events yet which is why we will be moving the exhibition online from September once it closes at the Museum so that no one has to miss out.
What have Trestle got coming up next?
We will continue to celebrate our Birthday across the year by working with partner schools locally in Hertfordshire to create a filmed piece of masked performance. We will also be bringing our own School of Drama to the Museum for a short Masked Performance during May Half Term Masking Around | St Albans Museums. We will also be running a series of CPD and training opportunities for teachers, facilitators and anyone wanting to try mask work in partnership with Hawkwood College Trestle Theatre Workshop – Hawkwood – Online Day Course (hawkwoodcollege.co.uk) and St Albans Museum in the coming months. For more information and to keep up to date with our work you can follow us on our social media accounts @trestletheatre and check out our website www.trestle.org.uk.