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Chapter 11 – Image Makers: Designers (Scenery, Costumes, Makeup, Masks, Wigs, and Hair) Stage-designing should be addressed to [the] eye of the mind. There is an outer eye that observes, and there is an inner eye that sees. —Robert Edmond Jones Chapter Summary

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Chapter 11 image makers designers scenery costumes makeup masks wigs and hair l.jpg
Chapter 11 – Image Makers: Designers(Scenery, Costumes, Makeup, Masks, Wigs, and Hair)

Stage-designing should be addressed to [the] eye of the mind. There is an outer eye that observes, and there is an inner eye that sees.

—Robert Edmond Jones

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Chapter Summary

  • Designers of theatrical sets, costumes, masks, puppets, hair, and wigs realize the production in visual terms.

  • They are visual artists who transform space and materials into an imaginative world for actors engaged in human action.

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The Scene Designer

  • Background:

    • Scenic artist (19th century):

      • Painted large scenic backdrops

    • Scene (or set) designer:

      • Rise of realism and naturalistic theatre created demand for more complex sets.

      • Sets required to look like what they represent.

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The Scene Designer

  • Early 20th century innovators:

    • Adolphe Appia

    • Edward Gordon Craig

  • Reinterpreted function of set and set design:

    • Create mood

    • Open stage up for movement

    • Unify visual ideas

  • Moved beyond illusion of stage realism:

    • Stage can be expressive

Courtesy Arena Stage

Ming Cho Lee’s Design

for K2

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Scene Design as Visual Storytelling

  • Designer as detective:

    • Uncovers visual clues that reveal inner life of play

  • Approaches:

    • Begins with script analysis:

      • Literary (theme, mood, setting, etc.)

      • Practical (entrances, exits, properties, etc.)

    • Creates sketches, models

    • Works with director to decide on look, details

    • Designer’s plans given to production manager, technical director, shop foreman

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Scene Designer Spotlight

  • Adolphe Appia (1862-1928):

    • Considered unity to be the basic goal of theatrical production

    • Disliked contradiction of three-dimensional actor and flat backdrop

    • Used ramps, steps, platforms to give depth

    • Role of lighting to fuse visual elements into whole

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The Costume Designer

  • Costume:

    • All garments and accessories, wigs, makeup, and masks

    • Tells us about characters:

      • Social position, economic status, occupation, etc.

      • Relationship of characters to each other

    • Tells us about play:

      • Sets mood, establishes setting

Bruce Goldstein/Courtesy Guthrie Theatre

Patricia Zipprodt’s

Costumes for

Molière’s Don Juan

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The Costume Designer

  • In past, costumes were handled by actor, manager

  • Costume designers emerged in last 80 years:

    • New stagecraft required detail-oriented specialists.

  • Typical responsibilities of costume designer:

    • Costume research

    • Sketching

    • Preparing costume plates

    • Assessing color choices

    • Choosing fabric

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The Costume Designer

  • Large costume houses:

    • Broadway Costume Rental, Inc. (Queens, N.Y.)

    • Western Costume Company (North Hollywood)

    • Warner Studios (Burbank, CA)

    • Malabar Ltd. (Toronto)

  • Rent and make costumes on demand

  • Costume Collection and Odds Costume Rental & Fur (New York City):

    • Rent to nonprofit organizations

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The Costume Designer: Process

  • Design conferences:

    • Forum for working out overall production plan

  • Costume construction:

    • Director approves designs.

    • Designer arranges for construction, purchase, or rental of costumes.

    • Director and designer examine costumes on actors (dress parade).

  • Dress rehearsal:

    • Costumes, makeup, and masks are worn onstage with full scenery and lights.

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  • Enhances the actor and completes the costume

  • In theatre, compensates for audience distance

  • Helps reveal character:

    • Age

    • Background

    • Ethnicity

    • Heath

    • Personality

    • Environment

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  • Ancient Greeks used white-lead makeup.

  • Modern makeup:

    • Foundation (prevents “washed out” look under lights)

    • Cake makeup (less greasy than oil-based)

    • Color shadings applied with pencils, brushes

    • Synthetic hair, glue, solvents, wax, hair whiteners

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  • Straight makeup:

    • Highlights an actor’s features and coloring

    • Distinctness and visibility

  • Character (illustrative) makeup:

    • Transforms actor’s features to reveal age or attitude

    • Noses, wrinkles, eyelashes, jawlines, eye pouches, eyebrows, teeth, hair, beards, etc.

  • Fantasy makeup:

    • Responsibility of designer (as opposed to actor)

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  • Ancient masks:

    • Originally thought to have supernatural powers

    • Enlarged actor’s facial features

    • Expressed basic emotions (especially Greek masks)

  • Modern masks:

    • Masked actor creates different presence onstage.

    • Mask must be comfortable, strong, light, and molded to the contours of the actor’s face.

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Wigs and Hair Design: Process

  • Meeting between wig designer and costume designer:

    • Meeting with actor

    • Measurements taken

  • Discussion of color and practical considerations (e.g., hats, changes to hair during play)

  • Construction:

    • Base constructed of lace

    • Ventilated (strands of hair knotted in place)

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Core Concepts

  • All good theatrical design enhances the actor’s presence and supports the director’s interpretation of that world—developing, visualizing, illuminating, and enriching it.