Sunday, September 26, 2010

No Makeup Week BONUS-- Stage Makeup

So the challenge of No Makeup Week was to go through my daily life without makeup. I’ve learned that things like school, running errands, and singing karaoke don’t require makeup. I can choose to not wear makeup or wear less makeup than normal and I now know that my life will not be affected by what’s on my face.

However, there wasn’t something I wasn’t thinking about until Friday: There are actually aspects of my life that do require makeup. So since I’ve pretty much said all that can be said (in my opinion) about my experience not wearing makeup and why I wear regular makeup, I’m devoting my post to discussing my relationship with a different kind of makeup: Stage Makeup.

One of the worlds I live in is the world of theatre. The theatre world has been a safe place for me ever since I was a little girl. I’ve always been socially awkward and not entirely comfortable in my own skin and acting provided an escape for me. If I was in a play, I had instructions on what to say, how to move, and how other people would react to me (provided that nothing went wrong or was improvised). In short, theatre allowed me to be someone else for a short time. I’m definitely more comfortable with myself now, but there is still an element of excitement at the notion of developing a new personality and viewing the world from that character’s perspective. It can be such an eye-opening experience philosophically.

Because of the technical elements of theatre productions, makeup is a crucial part of being an actor. Stage lights wash out an actor’s face and flatten it, so no matter what kind of makeup a character might wear, the actor must wear special foundation that enhances skin color and use special contouring techniques to accentuate the various contours of the face. Makeup is also used to transform your face into your character’s face. This can involve making your face appear older/younger or creating physical evidence of an illness or an injury, but it also involves choosing makeup that reflects your character’s specific life experiences. I for example, have played women who are dancers (and possibly secret prostitutes), so my makeup choices are outlandish (and sometimes a little cheap). Other times, I’ve had to tone my makeup down because I need to play a character who appears sweet and innocent. (The anti-feminist makeup rules in musical theatre: a potential future blog post? TOTALLY.)

Putting on makeup for a show has always been one of my favorite parts of being an actor. It is an extreme form of my daily makeup ritual. A common phrase that I hear in dressing rooms is that “There’s no such thing as ‘too much makeup.’” I find that I can get away with more intense looks because, under the lights, the makeup does not look as heavy as it actually is. I definitely find myself taking more liberties with my face because of this wiggle-room—insane drag queen false eyelashes, the thickest line of liquid liner imaginable, layer upon layer upon of blush, insanely bold lips…THE OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS!

So right about now is the point where I admit that this post came to me after seeing Rabbit Write’s photo gallery of her personal history with makeup. My “Mommy Rachel” complex kicked in a bit. “I WANNA DO A PHOTO GALLERY, JUST LIKE RACHEL.” But since I’m now an AH-dult and am my own person and have my own ideas (PROGRESS!), I am doing a slightly different thing by giving you a gallery of my face transformed by stage makeup. Enjoy. (Some of these photos go back as far as high school, bee tee dubs.)

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