Stage Makeup


I brought up the subject yesterday, I remain in my line: workshops and company, with the honourable aim of seducing the widest possible audience.

An almost inescapable workshop remains that of makeup.
Already because it has an absolutely incredible success with a very varied public (yes, okay, I’ve only ever had girls in this workshop – and my improbable friend Pierre, who finds himself very sorry to be the prey of so many ladies eager to paint him).
Then because it is almost a vital necessity for all amateur shows – especially those of the teachers of small children.

I realized this when I went to help a teacher prepare her famous show. The day she put make-up on her schoolers, it was a pure catastrophe – not to mention the children who didn’t want to show up anymore, because they were “ridiculous”.

So I prepared this with a friend, a stage make-up artist.

It was a question of offering the most effective training day possible, so that our participants could use what they had learned without difficulty.

So we started by targeting the teachers of the small sections (up to 10 years old in France).
The problem with children is that they pass their hands over their faces.
The problem with the teachers is that they have 30 of them to make up before entering the stage – and to dress up, and to console, and to accompany to the toilets…. in short, they have very very little time and are not professionals in this field.

As a result, my friend’s main objective was to create makeup that the children would not take off as soon as they put it on (so not all over the face) and that the teacher would be able to do in less than a minute.

Obviously, as she is a super-pro she found the solution.
So we did a practical workshop with 25 elementary school teachers.
We asked them to make a list, a week before the workshop, of the different characters they wanted to create on stage.

When they arrived, my friend explained to them that they would have to give up the whole make-up – and that she was going to make them work on the “magic” element that would help understand the character.
Until then, it wasn’t clear at all.

But when the first teacher told us about her pixie show in the forest, with the trees defending their pixie friends, and the wicked wolves who wanted to eat the pixies and scratched the trees (yes, yes, that’s how we start, no one laughs) – then my friend proposed her “tricks”: a large stylized leaf on a temple: there’s a tree; a redrawn almond-shaped eye, with an orange background, there’s the pixie; two large canines for the wolves – with associated colorful clothes, that was enough.

Our teacher was amazed – but still a little suspicious.
As a result, the 24 others, plus Pierre and myself, took the test: how long will it take you to make us up, with these ideas? And: will it be effective?

She was very fast – very very fast – and in a very short time she had her whole little troop of elves, trees and wolves ready to go on stage – without any make-up on our cheeks, and we could touch our faces without causing a disaster.

The rest of the workshop consisted of creating effective “symbol-drawings” and testing them on each other.

From this experience, my friend and I set up a whole bunch of other workshops centered around stage makeup: for amateur companies, for the “general public” who loves to be there without having to use this knowledge, for teachers of the “theatre option” and “cinema option”.

Each time, we proceeded in the same way: we identified a “homogeneous” group and asked people what they expected to learn from us.
We asked them to be as precise as possible: what, for whom, in how much time? and my friend used her pretty brain to suggest solutions.

I think the most amazing workshop was for the future beauticians: they wanted to work solely on the theme of plants – it gave absolutely extraordinary results. My friend had brought dozens and dozens of “vegetal” photographs, from different angles and different magnification effects – and then … the girls had a great time, transforming us in a joyful way.

These girls are not people who come to a theatre. But since the day they came in to play with us, they were suddenly less afraid of this place of such great culture that is: a theatre. And now they come rather regularly.
That’s also – above all – what our workshops are for: to open the doors and let in those who don’t usually come in.

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