March 16, 2015
We all go to the movies or to the theatre for the same reason-to be transported. Whether we're taken into an unknown subculture of our own existence or an excursion out of reality entirely into the world of sprites and fairies, stage makeup is an integral part of making the experience real for the audience.
"We're building upon a skill set here. The basis for all stage makeup is basic highlight and contouring," said Kenann Quander, visiting artist of costumes in the Department of Theatre at Susquehanna. "By highlighting the face's protruding bones, the features become pronounced; shadowing cavities can add depth."
Students design their makeup based upon a makeup chart-a blank face-on which they plot their highlights, contours and detail. Quander compares their makeup application with this chart for grading purposes.
And so students, at the beginning of the semester, learned that through the use of highlighting and contouring, the apparent shape of an actor's face can be changed quite significantly.
These basic skills have allowed students to transform themselves into old, craggy men and women, exotic tigers and cheetahs, and whimsical fairies and elves.
Most recently, students participated in a "gender bending" exercise, turning themselves from men to women or women to men.
It wasn't easy. The masculine contouring was a challenge for the women, while the men had trouble masking their eyebrows, which they did through the use of glue sticks.
"There's a reason I'm not on RuPaul's Drag Race right now," quipped one student.
Regan Mulrooney, a junior theatre production major from Lake Ariel, Pa., takes particular interest in the course as her career aspirations revolve around professional costume design.
"It's really important as a designer to have an understanding of all aspects of costume design, which includes hair and makeup, which is a big part of any theatrical production," Mulrooney said. "It really helps convey the actor's portrayal of the character to the audience. And to be able to read the script and analyze the meaning behind that and then apply it to makeup design is really quintessential to any designer."