Masks and Costumes


Teatro delle Maschere

Teatro delle Maschere is Behind the Mask Studio’s in house commedia dell’arte troupe under the direction of actor and playwright, Ian Thal /blog. Commedia dell’arte is a comedic theatre form that used masks and improvisation that arose in 16th century Italy. Its characters, plots, and antics directly inspired such playwrights as Shakespeare, Dario Fo, and Fredrico Garcia Lorca, as well as such popular entertainment as Punch & Judy.
Teatro delle Maschere creates comic presentations for both young and adult audiences also gives workshops in mime and commedia dell’arte for students and artists.




Bolded classes are upcoming.
◆ Non-Bold classes are not currently scheduled.

Classes and Workshops


Hire Us for Parties and Special Events

Let Behind the Mask host your next party or special event! Our indoor and covered outdoor spaces provide a venue any time of the day or night, rain or shine, and at most times of year. Need to make your special events even more fantastic with live entertainment? We've got you covered with a variety of live performances, including but not limited to musicians, actors, puppeteers, and storytellers! Our outdoor space is available mid-spring through mid-fall.

Kids' Parties and Workshops

A regular birthday becomes a trip into the imagination when your child has his/her party with Behind the Mask Studio! Live performances, customized themed parties, and kids' mask/puppet making workshops transform your child's birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, graduation or other special event into an unforgettable, hands-on creative experience! Contact us to schedule a date.


The Behind the Mask Studio stage, recently inaugurated with Ian Thal's irreverent and delightful Commedia dell'Arte show "Arlecchino am Ravenous," is available now for rehearsals, events and performances! This new outdoor venue for musicians, storytellers, puppeteers, actors, and other performing artists is available mid-spring through mid-fall and seats up to 25 people. Studio stage rental rates begin at $25/hr.


Behind the Mask Studio was founded by Eric Bornstein in 1990. We specialize in mask theater, arts education, custom made masks and costumes. Our company has worked with a wide variety of artists, performance groups, and institutions, including the Boston Ballet, Windsor School, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Public articles and interviews: Boston Globe / Phoenix / youtube


Eric Bornstein

Eric has studied with masters Agung Suardana in Bali, and Donato Sartori in Italy. He received his MLA in Fine Arts along with the Thomas Small prize from Harvard University. His masks have appeared most recently in the 31st Cambridge River Festival, Contemporary Theater of Boston’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Performance Lab’s Le Cabaret Grimm, Underground Railway Theater’s Life of Galileo, and the Harvard Yiddish Players’ Shulamis. Over the last 30 years Eric’s masked characters have appeared in a variety of venues. They were a highlight of Boston’s First Night celebration for 15 years. His masks have also appeared at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, the Fuller Craft Museum, the Kennedy Library/Museum, the Boston Lyric Opera, the Boston Ballet, the Society of Arts & Crafts (Newbury Street), The Peabody/Essex Museum, King Richard's Faire, and Revels. He currently teaches classes in making and performing masks, and offers performances and residencies to schools throughout the state through Young Audiences of Massachusetts.
Artist's Statement

About Us


Mask-making is about rich storytelling, and fascinating characters – human, animal, and magical. When I create a mask, I celebrate the depth and diversity of the stories I love, the natural and mystical worlds we inhabit, and my very own soul.

Eric Bornstein MLA Harvard 2000 Fine Arts

When I tell people that I am a professional mask maker, they’re usually speechless. They rack their brains for a relevant follow-up, searching for scant references to my line of work. Perhaps they briefly envision an African carver squatting over a piece of wood in a hut, or a Venetian artisan laboring in his atelier/shop. Some might think of The Phantom of the Opera or Julie Taymor’s work for The Lion King. But few can grasp just what I do, or the idea that anyone from America could have such a job.

Mask-making is as odd an occupation as one can imagine, but not for me. I’ve studied visual and performing arts throughout my life, earning degrees in studio art and art history. I have conducted academic research in folklore and psychology, and have traveled to Bali and Italy for formal training in native mask making. I don masks for intimate, children’s theater shows, and parade as a Chinese Dragon before tens of thousands on New Year’s Eve. It’s the type of resume that, well, one might expect a mask-maker to have. But why have I fallen in love with such a unique art? Why have I made this my life’s work? For starters, mask-making is a transcendent art, something that continually introduces me to new cultures and ages of history long passed. Mask-making is about rich storytelling, and fascinating characters – human, animal, and magical. When I create a mask, I celebrate the depth and diversity of the stories I love, the natural and mystical worlds we inhabit, and my very own soul.

If my task is to make the mask of an owl, I first ask, “What owl? Male, female, old, young, wise, or foolish?” Over the next 25, 50 or 100 hours – indeed, the most intricate mask can take that long to create – I explore the character through study, sketching, thought and visualization. I might be further guided by a script, a director, or a personal experience in my life. In the end, maybe the mask that emerges is that of a fierce, Great Horned Owl. Or maybe, it’s a nebbish little bird with thick bifocals.

Beyond the finished product, my work gives me balance. It’s rewarding, purposeful, and celebratory. When performing, I am interacting with fellow actors and a huge audience. But I also hold dear my solitary studio time. These are the most satisfying and exciting aspects of my path as an artist – the relationships with extraordinary individuals that emerge from my work, and the opportunity to explore my own artistic wanderings. With masks, the range of artistic motifs and personality types is limitless.

For a mask to be powerful, of course, the character needs to resonate strongly within me, and express something important about me. I might trudge to the woods or to a zoo to observe owls as they fly, hunt and rest. My mask must mimic their essential characteristics, but it must also allow the actor or dancer who wears it to move freely. What points do I augment, tone down, or accent? How do I fuse the bird’s emotions with those of the performer? Hopefully, with each incremental decision I make, the mask’s form, rhythm and texture emerge on their own. In that way, the mask exhibits my own personality as well. And for sure, it will be nothing like than the next one I create.

Artist's Statement


Studio address

6 Campbell Park Place (private way), West Somerville, Mass. 02144 | 617. 417. 4961
Our studio is generally open from 10am to 6pm, Monday through Friday by appointment.
We are located just minutes away from Davis Square T-stop.
Free parking is available.

Directions to Behind The Mask Studio
By Car [ map ]
By Subway
Take the Red Line T to Davis Square
Exit Turnstiles towards Holland Street
Off Stairs/Escalators exit left to Meacham Street
Walk through small park to bike path, walk 25 yards to circle
Exit Path to left and turn right onto Kingston Street
Walk ½ block to Campbell Park Place and turn right
Our house is #6 on the left against the bike path fence
The studio is in the rear.


Masks and Costumes

© 2011 Behind the Mask Studio