Theater techniques revealed at CU
Cameron University’s Theatre Department offers several tools for its students in order to ensure they are prepared for their future careers. One of the classes offered is Makeup, in which students learn how to apply various types of make-up that actors and actresses use in the theatre.
Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Eric Abbott teaches the make-up class. The class meets once a week from 11 a.m. -1:45 p.m. The course is offered every two years. Students who take the course are required to purchase a makeup kit in place of a textbook.
Abbott has taught at Cameron for five years and said the makeup class he took while in high school introduced him to the idea of pursuing theatre.
Abbott said a wide variety of students choose to take his course. It is not limited to theatre majors.
“Theatre Makeup is one of two classes that can serve as a particular requirement for theatre majors,” Abbott said. “They can choose between the Makeup class and the sound class, but most will take make-up— partially because most students are performers. At least six or seven students — out of 20 — are not theatre majors.”
Students practice by applying the makeup on themselves. Abbott said he demonstrates it on himself first and then lets them try.
“We teach the basics of theatrical makeup,” Abbott said. “We start with what is referred to as corrective, which is evening out the skin tone and showing some basic illusions on shadows and highlights and creating a natural color for each person.”
After the basics are covered, the class transitions to more challenging assignments. Abbott said students begin with the aging makeup because it is the most simple — and then they move to extreme age. When students master that concept, they begin theatrical categories like fantasy, horror and gore and dimensional makeup such as false noses and beards.
“Early on in the first two assignments, we only do half of the face, so they can hold up a piece of paper and see the difference,” Abbott said. “They get an idea of what it is supposed to look like because theatrical makeup up close does not look good. It’s made to be seen from a distance. The makeup is not just important for the character face, but also to opaque the skin since theatrical lights are so bright.”
CU senior and Radio Television Major Sandra Hall-O’Brien said she has experienced the theatre world before and said she really enjoys the class.
“I wanted to take the class because I thought it’d be really fun,” Hall-O’Brien said. “I used to be a member of the North Georgia Community Players, so I had worn the makeup before, but I thought it would be fun to learn how to apply it myself.”
Although not quite halfway into the semester, Hall-O’Brien said she already has a favorite makeup technique.
“My favorite activity is the transition where we made ourselves look really old,” Hall said. “We only apply the make-up on half our face, so I can make my eyes look closer together or further apart — I think it’s really cool — and it’s a lot of fun.”
Abbott said depending on how students progress throughout the class is how Abbott determines their grade.
“The arts is a very individualized thing,” Abbott said. “Some people have a natural ability and do well, but the idea of this class is to get everyone to a point where they can do this well enough on stage to actually communicate what needs to be done.”
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