Y9 Cold War Masks Display



In this project, students were asked to work as a props designer for an absurdist theatre production about the Cold War. They were paired with an actor and had to design and make an oversized head mask of a key figure from the Cold War period, who they will have studied in order to show a deeper understanding about their role in the war.


 The Cold War began on the eve of World War Two when the Western Bloc and Eastern Bloc were at conflict over their political differences. You will look in depth at the causes of the Cold War: understanding the different tensions at the Potsdam conference, the first major international crisis in Berlin in 1948 and the 13 day confrontation between the US and USSR in Cuba. Whilst learning about the events and themes that underpin the Cold War they have been using this knowledge to caricature their character of the Cold War. The theatre production will be a series of short plays about different key situations from the Berlin Crisis to the arms race and Cuban Missile Crisis. 


The mask will need to be:

  • a caricature of the Cold War figure you have been commissioned. The mask should reflect their character and exaggerate features.

  • light enough to rest on the shoulders of your actor and should also be able to be manoeuvred with handles like a puppet.

  • they will need to be made using papier-mâché construction techniques and painted using acrylics to achieve realistic skin tones.

Key Art & Design skills:

  • Knowledge of the design process: responding to a brief, researching, developing specification, designing, making and presenting a product.

  • Illustration skills: caricature/comic drawings learning how to draw exaggerated forms

  • Sculpture skills: Casting and modelling using papier mache

  • Painting skills: learning how to mix and apply skin tones and texture

Historical knowledge:

  • Knowledge of the causes of the Cold War: an understanding of the breakdown of relations between the USSR and USA at Potsdam, the first major international crisis in Berlin in 1948 to the 13 day confrontation which almost resulted in an all out nuclear war in Cuba, 1962.

  • Narrative skills: understanding how to write a historical narrative of certain events that underpin the Cold War.

What the teacher says

”This was a fantastic project that enabled students to see the Cold War through a different lens. They were able to both meet the challenges of the new GCSE course whilst at the same time use these skills to bring their caricatures to life!"

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