Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Theatrical makeup


 The art of changing the external appearance of an actor, primarily his face, with the aid of paints, plastic and hair patches,wigs, and different hair-dos. Makeup  used to assist in creating the appearance of  the characters that actors portray during a theater production.


In the Greek and Roman theatre the actors’ use of masks precluded the need for makeup, allowing them to portray another gender, age, or entirely different likeness. Thespis, considered to be the first actor, used white lead and wine to paint his face. Early stage lighting, provided first by candles and later by oil lamps, was dim and ineffectual; consequently, crudity in makeup passed unnoticed. With the introduction of gas, limelights, and, finally, electric lights into the theatre came the need for new makeup materials and more skillful techniques of application. Crude, inartistic effects could not be hidden under the revealing light of electricity. 

A solution was found with the use of stick greasepaint, invented in the 1860s in Germany by Ludwig Leichner, a Wagnerian opera singer. Advancements in stage lighting technology required stage makeup to evolve beyond one over-all face color to a multidimensional craft.On the modern stage, makeup is a necessity because powerful stage-lighting systems may remove all colour from a performer’s complexion and will eliminate shadows and lines. Makeup restores this colour and defines the facial features to ensure a natural appearance. It also helps the player to look and feel the part, a consideration especially helpful in character interpretations. A theatrical makeup kit typically includes makeup base colours, rouges, coloured liners for shadow and highlighting effects, eye makeup and false eyelashes, various cleansers, powder and powder puffs, putties for making prosthetic features, adhesives, wigs, and facial hairpieces or mohair to construct them. 

In the religious plays of medieval Europe, actors playing God or Christ painted their faces white or sometimes gold, while the faces of angels were coloured bright red.

 During the Renaissance the actors were creative and resourceful when making-over their faces. Popular characters in French farce wore false beards of lamb’s wool and whitened their faces with flour. It is known that on the stage of Elizabethan England, actors playing ghosts and murderers powdered their faces with chalk and that those appearing as blacks and Moors were blackened with soot or burnt cork. Little attempt was made to achieve historical accuracy in either makeup or costuming until early in the 19th century.   They used lamb's wool for false beards and flour as face paint. 

What costumes did actors wear?
In Shakespeare’s time, clothes reflected a person’s status in society – there were laws controlling what you could wear. As plays had kings, queens and wealthy people in them, the actors’ costumes reflected their characters social status. Costumes were mainly the modern dress of the time. So for less important roles, actors might wear their own clothes.   A company probably spent about £300 a year on costumes, which in todays money would be over £35,000

What about women’s costumes?
In Shakespeare’s time all actors were male. Men and boys played all the female parts.  They also wore wigs which, by their colour and styles, showed the age and status of their character.

The company usually owned some costumes and reused them as often as possible. The style of Queen Elizabeth was obviously more
influential in women. The Queen had red hair, so this colour 
became a real vogue. Women emulated this colour or the 
yellow as the ideals of beauty with a mixture of saffron, cumin 
seed, celandine and oil. Another tendency was the idea that a high forehead was considered very attractive, so women shaved the hair from their front hairlines

More remarkable and probably used by Shakespeare were the wigs. When the men of  this time went bald, they depended upon wigs 
to help them keep up the latest fashion.  The wigs worn at his time were usually a fashionable white or yellow colour. 

Comic effects could also be obtained by combing the natural hair in a messy way or with hats. Beards and moustaches were also 

extended or given an eccentric shape, as in these Shakespearean characters.

Another aspect dealing with make-up was to characterise the actors (and later, actresses). For example, to represent the “clown” or “joker”, the “old man” or an“blackamoors” or “Turks” some painting was required. This way, physic stereotypes were reinforced, thus creating a bigger sense of identification and empathy in the audience. At the same time, some face features such as noses, wrinkles or eyes were highlighted with a good effect. The make-up was combined with false noses, beards, wigs and other props, and its effect could go even further with the use of prosthetic parts of the face or the body. 

Finally, actors could also wear partial or total masks to produce a greater effect 

and emphasize funny or comic traits.

Shakespeare’s magnificence also was  present in this field, since he observed those models and stereotypes and decided among them to create his characters. Just by preserving or deforming those models -with the use of hairstyle and make-up- he made people feel and laugh, without the need of words, which would be the culmination of his talent and his wit. 

Makeup and lighting
Light's effect on makeup

  • Pink tends to gray the cool colors and intensify the warm ones. Yellow becomes more orange.
  • Flesh pink flatters most makeup.
  • Fire red ruins makeup. All but the darker flesh tones virtually disappear. Light and medium rouge fade into the foundation, whereas the dark red rouges turn a reddish brown. Yellow becomes orange, and the cool shading colors become shades of gray and black.
  • Bastard amber is flattering because it picks up the warm pinks and flesh tones in the makeup.
  • Amber and orange intensifies and yellow most flesh colors. They turn rouges more orange. Cool colors are grayed.
  • Green grays all flesh tones and rouges in proportion to its intensity. Green will be intensified. Yellow and blue will become greener.
  • Light blue-green lowers the intensity of the base colors. One should generally use very little rouge under this type of light.
  • Green-blue washes out pale flesh tones, and will gray medium and deep flesh tones, as well as all reds.
  • Blues gray most flesh tones and cause them to appear more red or purple.
  • Violet causes orange, flame, and scarlet to become redder. Rouge appears more intense.
  • Purple affects makeup like violet lighting, except reds and oranges will be even more intense, and most blues will look violet.
  • 1.     Based on clothing worn at the time of the action
  • 2.     Indicate a particular country or region
  • 3.     Indicate a particular place
  • 4.     Indicate a time of day or occasion
I.      The Functions of Costume Design
A.    Establish time and place
B.    Establish social and economic status
C.    Identify occupation or lifestyle
D.    Indicate gender and reflect age
E.    Reflect a character’s a typicality
F.    Costumes do not always adhere to realistic standards
G.   Reflect mood and atmosphere
H.    Establish a particular style
I.      Reflect formalized conventions
J.     Reflect a level of exaggeration
K.    Enhance or impede movement
L.     Establish or clarify character relationships by:
M.   Establish the relative importance of characters
N.    Underline the development of the dramatic action
O.    Create both variety and unity
P.    Alter an actor’s appearance;  A costume may be designed to make an actor appear taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, plainer, etc.
Lighting controls makeup to a high degree.  Conversely, skillful lighting can greatly aid the art of makeup and its effectiveness . Close communication between the lighting director and the makeup artist is crucial for the best possible effect.
Understanding light's effect on makeup and various shades and pigments is important when designing a performer’s makeup. The following are among the basic rules of light: nothing has color until light is reflected from it; an object appears black when all of the light is absorbed; an object appears white when all of the light is reflected. If certain rays are absorbed and others are reflected, the reflected rays determine the color.
Because stage actors are seen from farther away than actors on screen, it is crucial that their makeup is more dramatic and professionally done. Many higher-learning institutions have drama departments where all aspects of theater are taught, including the art of theatrical makeup. Some independent agencies also provide classes in theatrical makeup, and even online courses are available. Through training, makeup artists learn important techniques such as hand-eye coordination, ability to draw straight lines and consistent shapes, creativity, good grooming and personal hygiene habits, etc. Many makeup artists who specialize in theatrical makeup build portfolios to show their clients and employers. Many of them work as freelance makeup artists or work for cosmetics brands in department stores.






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