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FOR THE KIDS : Masks Put New Face on Drama : The show, billed as family entertainment, is a collection of short skits, interspersed with entertaining tidbits of information.


For children and adults who wish Halloween came around more than once a year, the show to see this weekend is "Mask Messengers." It's a whole show about masks that is billed as family entertainment.

Sponsored by the Ventura Children's Festival, the performance is at 7 p.m. Friday at the Buena High School auditorium, 5670 Telegraph Road, Ventura.

The show is a collection of short skits, each based on a different mask. But Robert Faust, the main performer, intersperses the skits with entertaining tidbits of information about masks--their history, uses, and even the psychology of masks.

The set is a wall of about 20 masks that Faust and fellow performers, dressed in black, don throughout the show. One minute they are cavemen; another, Elvis; another, a tough guy in a baseball cap.

In one vignette, they re-enact the death of a deer. In another, they are four-legged animals from the jungle. It's a blending of mime, comedy and dance. They go into the audience and even bring the audience onto the stage for some mask play.

The masks in the show were all made by Faust, who also has an extensive background in choreography and theater. His Connecticut-based company, Faustwork Mask Theater, formed in 1983, performs across the country.


Speaking of Halloween, if your kids are wowed by ghost stories, take them on a tour of downtown Ventura's ghostly haunts. Historian Richard Senate will lead the tour to the marble passageways of City Hall, where rumor has it that ghosts lurk. Another stop is the Bella Maggiore Inn, where, according to folklore, a dancing ghost named Sylvia resides.

The tour, sponsored by Ventura's recreation department, is Saturday, 6 to 8 p.m. Cost is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors and children under 12. For reservations and information, call 658-4726.


For kids interested in breaking into show business, Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District plans to launch an intensive training program in Oak Park.

The program, called Theatre Productions Inc., is aimed at kids who want to perform on television, in films or in theater. Classes start in April, according to the district.

To get a preview of the program and meet the instructors, families may attend seminars this weekend at Mae Boyar Park, at Kanan Road and Conifer Street in Oak Park. The first is at 8 p.m. Friday and the second, at 11 a.m. Saturday. Instructors will have some of their drama and music students on hand for a performance.

The program is organized by Seymour Morgenstern of Agoura, who said he is lining up professionals from the Los Angeles area to teach the kids. The 13-week series of classes will be open to kids as young as 4 years old, on up to teen-agers.

Classes will run 90 minutes to two hours. They include acting, improvisation, dance, working with the camera, voice, script analysis, singing and movement, as well as classes for parents and children on the business side of performing.


* WHAT: "Mask Messengers," a show about masks, sponsored by the Ventura Children's Festival.

* WHERE: Buena High School auditorium, 5670 Telegraph Road, Ventura.

* WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday.

* COST: Tickets are $6 for children, $8 for adults, $1 more at the door.

* FYI: The performance is geared for children 5 and older. Tickets are available at Kideos in Ventura, Serendipity Toys in Ojai, or to charge by phone, call 650-5900.

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