Theatrical makeup is a very specialised and important part of any theatre production, which is why every play and production has make-up artists who are responsible for making sure that the actors participating in any particular program depict the character they are supposed to play, and thus be able to convey the character properly to the audience.
Make-up artists are people who handle the make-up and prosthetics for theatre, television, film, magazines, and other media, which has to do with modelling. Besides this, the make-up artist can also be responsible for hair styling of the person.
Theatre make-up is very different from other kinds of make-up, because the actor is live on stage, and the makeup artist needs to make sure that the makeup they put on is something that is visible from even the last rows in the theatre. This means that the face has to be defined a lot more in theatrical makeup that in other kinds of makeup so that every expression is very visible even till the last rows.
The makeup that is used for theatrical makeup is specially pigmented so that the colour is more visible under the harsh lighting. Because the actor is lit up with multiple lights right above their head, it is common for the makeup to become imperceptible, and thus the actor is not able to convey their expressions properly, or can look washed out. To avoid this, the colours in theatrical makeup are brighter and much more vibrant than normal makeup.
Also, this makeup is much harder and doesn’t come off even after lots of activity because there is often not any time to check the makeup and touch it up between the different acts. The actors after being dressed rarely get a chance to come backstage to get their makeup fixed. Since plays can last for hours, therefore, it is important for the makeup to not come off during this course of time.
One of the best theatrical makeup lines is by Ben Nye. It is widely used in theatre circles and is the premier makeup to use. This is a far cry from the makeup that was used in ancient theatres that was made from a mixture of white lead and mercuric sulphide. Now there are many makeup lines that specialise in theatrical makeup, and they even come in environment friendly versions.
Compared to jobs like acting or modelling, theatrical makeup artistry is not a very high paying job. The best makeup artist will earn only a small percentage of what an actor earns. The worth of an artist is, however, not only decided by their skill, but also by the network they create.
Most makeup artists learn makeup at school or through other classes, but they also then go on to intern at theatres or with other professional makeup artists to learn more. Theatrical makeup is such a difficult task that several years of experience is required before someone gets to learn all about this difficult task.
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