Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Magic of the Stage



About a week ago, while I was at dress rehearsal, one of the cast members, an 11-year-old girl, sat down at my make-up table and asked, “Why do you do make-up?”
My answer to her was, “Because I can’t sing or dance.”
While there is a certain amount of truth to my answer to her, it didn’t quite do justice to the real reason as to why I love doing stage makeup.

I’m currently reading a book titled “Wyrd Sisters” by Terry Pratchett. If you’re not familiar with Pratchett’s work, he’s kind of like J.R.R. Tolkien on crack. His work is very strange, very funny, and at times… very poignant.
The book centers around 3 witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick, who meddle in the affairs of a kingdom… anyway… The story has a lot to do with the theater, which the witches (especially Granny Weatherwax) don’t really understand. Here’s my point… it’s all contained in one paragraph from the book.

“The theater worried her. It had a magic of its own, one that didn’t belong to her, one that wasn’t in her control. It changed the world, and said things were otherwise than they were. And it was worse than that. It was magic that didn’t belong to magical people. It was commanded by ordinary people, who didn’t know the rules. They altered the world because it sounded better.”

I think that… that is why I love doing what I do. It’s worth some of the expense to me to work in Community Theater so that I can partake of some of that… magic. Every night this week, I’ve been able to transform a mailman into an ill-tempered farm hand. No… that’s not true. The actor does the transforming… I just get to help get him started on his journey.

Maybe that’s what the makeup artist does, he takes ordinary people, and gets them started changing. He’s the catalyst… one of the “Spell Components.” Dipping into his bag of tricks, like the witch in Snow White, to transform the actor from the ordinary to the extraordinary… from one form to another.

So that should have been my answer to this young actor. Why do I do stage makeup? Because I want to partake of the magic that is the stage, even though I can’t sing or dance. I’ll just be the wizard behind the curtain.
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