Mas Makers Massive
Trinidadian Carnival arts and traditions
Mas Makers Massive is one of the Bay Area’s leading Carnival groups. In their 20+ year history, they have received much acclaim for their spectacular costume creations and extraordinary performances. Each year they assemble participants from various ethnic groups and socio-economic backgrounds to wear their costumes and dance to pulsating calypso rhythms in San Francisco’s Carnaval and various Bay Area festivals, providing a celebration of self-expression, creativity, and empowerment for all audiences to enjoy.
Their perofrmances reflect key political and historical messages, with particular relevance to their communities. Their large-scale costumes have evolved from the bulky, inflexible metal frameworks or floats that typify the art form to more elaborate kinetic puppet structures utilizing and magnifying the natural movements of the human puppet master, allowing the fifteen-foot-tall puppets to literally dance.
Mas Makers Massive was founded by Stephen Tiffenson, a Trinidadian native who migrated to the Unisted States over twenty years ago. Upon his arrival in the U.S., he sought fellow Trinidadians nostalgic for their culture and formed Mas Makers to produce costumes for local Carnival celebrations. Mas Makers Massive is now led by Stephen Tiffenson, band leader; Kyle Hill, artistic director; and Linda Johnson, master choreographer.
In 2012, Mas Makers Massive received support from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program for Steelpan Rising, a multifaceted production of instructional workshops, spoken word, and dance culminating in performance by steelpan virtuoso Robert Greenridge and Bay Area steelpan musicians, as well as a showcase tracing the evolution and development of the instrument which was invented in the 20th century.
In 2008, as participants in ACTA’s Traditional Arts Development Program, web designer Yvonne Murphy was contracted to build a professional website for Mas Makers Massive, increasing the organization’s marketing potential.
In 2007, Mas Makers Massive received support from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program for a two day symposium entitled Calypso Journey, exploring Trinidad and Tobago’s musical genre. A series of interactive workshops culminated in a musical performance to explore and display the multifaceted history and aesthetics of calypso in the 20th century. Hollis Urban Liverpool, director of the Carnival Institute from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, was a featured speaker. Rudolph Ottley, researcher and author of books on women in Calypso; Brother Resistance, international performer and lecturer in the genre of spoken calypso rapso; and Joanne Rowley, international calypso performer, were among other participants.