Salina actors use clear face masks to show expression

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 5:43 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Actors with the Salina Community Theatre are using clear plastic face masks during performances to help audiences see their expressions.

“We chose the clear masks because we were able to see their facial expressions a lot better than if they were wearing cloth masks,” said Megan Coberly, education director for the Salina Community Theatre.

Each actor is given their own mask. The masks are also cleaned after each usage.

“They’re not perfect. I’m sure they were a little uncomfortable. We’d rather do it without masks, but we thought that 43 kids on a stage, it was important to keep them safe and keep them wearing masks,” said Coberly.

Actors, ranging from 4th to 8th grade, used these masks during the Frozen show earlier this month.

“When you’re singing and dancing, it just gets extra hot,” said Libby Kierscht, 13-year-old actress. “When we kept practicing with them, it only got easier. I think at the end, I was pretty comfortable with wearing it.”

Have you seen these clear face masks? Performers are using them in one Kansas community. We share their experience with these masks on KWCH 12 Eyewitness News at 5pm. #kwch12 Heartland Photography

Posted by Lily Wu - KWCH on Thursday, August 13, 2020

Dr. Garold Minns, the Sedgwick County health officer, has seen these types of masks used for the hearing impaired.

Minns is not opposed to kids trying them.

“I could see the advantages of it. If it fits well and is easy to breathe in and not too hot, seems like it would be a reasonable choice,” said Minns.

Coberly said there is an adjustment period for mask usage, but noted that most kids adapted quickly.

“If you give kids a chance and you tell them why have to do something and you give them time to adjust and process, everybody can remain safe, if everybody is on board. And, these kids really were, so it was great,” said Coberly.

Coberly taught elementary school students prior to her role at the theatre.

“Kids communicate with their faces so much more than their words. Sometimes either ‘cause they’re nervous or they’re scared. So, I just think about those kids not being able to see their faces would be really hard as a teacher,” she said.

Coberly hopes there are more studies to test the effectiveness of these clear masks.

“Safety is first. So, if research comes out that they’re not as safe, don’t do it. But if they are, that would be ideal,” said Coberly.

Minns added that any plastic coverings, such as these clear face masks, should be disinfected after every use.

Clear face masks, like the ones used by the theatre, are approximately $3 per mask.

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