Masked Unmasked by Royal Society Literature

‘Man is least himself when he talks in his own person,’ wrote Oscar Wilde. ‘Give him a mask and he will tell the truth.’ During the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition ‘Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: behind the mask, another mask’ the RSL co-hosts a discussion about how masks can both hide and reveal. Novelist and critic Diran Adebayo has long been interested in the ‘performance’ of race in multicultural societies. Jay Griffiths’ novel, A Love Letter from a Stray Moon, is inspired by the life of Frida Kahlo, a lifelong collector of masks. John Wright is co-founder of Trestle Theatre Company, the first ‘home-grown’ mask theatre company to develop a popular style of visual theatre. In a conversation chaired by RSL Director Tim Robertson, they reflect on how masks allow us to fulfil personal fantasies, to enact dramatic refusals of societal limitations and inequalities, and to assert forgotten kinships with the natural world.