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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Transforming Yourself: Stage Makeup for Romeo and Juliet

This week I'd like to focus a little less on the academic side of this blog and a little more on the pure aesthetic side of the blog. This last week I had the amazing experience of doing the makeup for my school's production of Romeo and Juliet. For anyone reading this blog that does not go to my school, let me just add that our school affords us a lot of amazing experiences, and our theatre program is both well funded and very high quality.

For the next three weeks, I'd like to focus on the transformative aspect of aesthetics: how easy it is to transform your appearance and how that affects you. That is one of the things that I can take away from my experience with Romeo and Juliet: many of the cast members expressed how theatre can be an escape for them, that they become a complete other person and don't have to focus on themselves for a while. And my job is to make sure that they complete that transformation not only on the inside but on the outside so that the audience believes it.

Working behind the scenes on a play is amazingly enjoyable for me. It's hard to explain to the actors, whose greatest ambition is to be on the stage under a spotlight, but it is much more fulfilling to me to be the one waiting offstage with powder for when they sweat (ew, I know) or blush for when they get a little too washed out. In fact, as I found out last year, I really hate being on stage.

Being able to contribute to the success of a play like Romeo and Juliet, and to watch my friends and peers become fantastic actors was an absolutely rewarding and wonderful experience for me. And helping a 17 year old look like he's 50, well, that's both awesome and hilarious.

It's interesting to me how looking like another person can so wholly transform you. You can't completely become that other person until you walk in their shoes. One perfect example is my friend Megan, who played Lady Capulet. We gave her really sharp lines on her face and dark makeup, which only intensified her sternness as a character. She looked absolutely awesome and you could often catch her staring at herself in the mirror and scowling, because looking like Lady Capulet helped her become Lady Capulet.

In the next two posts, I want to explore other ways that people transform their outer shells to transform themselves on the inside, if only for one night.

Until next time,


  1. This is a really interesting topic you bring up. The idea that the way you look on the outside can impact the way you present yourself is so different than the classical "beauty is only skin deep". Clearly, the inner acting matters, but makeup and appearance enhance the experience. If the actors didn't put on costumes and makeup, people wouldn't necessarily know who they are, and by looking like characters, the actors feel transformed so the audience finds the play more realistic believable.

    Another thing to consider is the outlet aesthetics becomes for the actors. They get to leave their own shoes for a moment in time and view the world through someone else's lens. At the same time, they become introspective by learning about themselves by being somebody else for a while. It must be truly rewarding even as the makeup artist because your work is what is pushing the actors to fit their roles more tightly and become stronger actors.

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