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 • 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Makeup • Enhances the actor and completes the costume • In theatre, compensates for audience distance • Helps reveal character: • Age • Background • Ethnicity • Heath • Personality • Environment
Makeup • 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
Makeup • 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)
Masks • 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.
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)
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.