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the role of the MAKE-UP & HAIR designer

If you chose to serve on the  MAKE-UP / HAIR DESIGN TEAM for this semester's Advanced Acting show, you are responsible for participating in design team meetings as well as growing as a designer during the rehearsal and performance process.


If serving on the Make-up Design Team, you are ALSO responsible for independently learning about the role of a make-up designer as outlined below. 


Please be sure you have your Acting/Design Binder (to collect/document your learning) and your  Process Journal (to reflect on your process/journey).

learning about MAKE-UP/hair design



Video: American Theatre Wing - Make Up Designer (6:37) 

Journal Entry:  Make-up Design (Angelina Avallone)

  1. What is the role of the make-up designer (stated right away)?

  2. What is Angelina's process? (What does she start with? Who does she meet with? Etc.)

  3. What type of research does Angelina mention and for which shows?

  4. How does the designer make sure that ALL actors get their make-up applied in time?

(Notice how often "feeling" or describing words are used to create the make-up design.  How can analyzing the characters in OUR show help to create stronger make-up/hair design?)

Video:  Working in the Theatre: Makeup (19:56)

Journal Entry:  Make-up 

(Take notes on the process, roles, and skills needed effective for Make-up designers.  Document new information and/or anything that you find interesting while viewing this teaching video.)

Video: Wicked Hair & Make-up:  Wigs (4:36) 

Journal Entry:  Wigs

(Take notes on the process, roles, and skills needed effective for Make-up designers.  Document new information and/or anything that you find interesting while viewing this teaching video.)

Video:  Theatre Base Face/ Stage Makeup (7:15)

Journal Entry:  Wigs

  1. What types of supplies are needed for make-up design?

  2. What are the steps for applying make-up?

  3. What types of supplies might we need to have and/or order?  (Note:  most theatres use "Ben Nye" make-up)

Video:  Wig Prep Tutorial (6:44) / Wig Prep - Pin Curls (17:02) / Long Hair (4:42) / Wig Dressing (13:06)

Journal Entry:  Wigs Prep

(Take notes on the various types of processes for prepping an actor's hair for a wig.)

Video:  Age Make-up Tutorial (8:05) / Old Age Make-up (3:39)

Journal Entry: 

(Take notes on the process and skills needed to apply age make-up.)

Video:  Theatrical Makeup : How to Make Hair Look Gray for a Costume (2:50)

Journal Entry: 

(Take notes on the process and skills needed to gray an actor's hair.)

Video: How to Apply Fake Facial Hair : How to Apply a Fake Full Beard  (2:50)

Journal Entry:  Applying Facial Hair

(Take notes on the process and skills needed to apply facial hair.)

Video: Using Spirit gum to glue on a lace mustache or beard (6:33)

Journal Entry:  Applying Facial Hair

(Take notes on the process and skills needed to use spirit gum on an actor effectively.)

Task (Formative Grade):  YOUR Process of Design

  • Track your process of design in your Process Journal, including any relevant research, images, sketches, face charts, practice sessions, or further learning you did to create your make-up or hair design.  You must make your design process visible for this grade.  (See paragraph above.)

Task (Formative Grade):  AFTER watching the first 3 videos above (from the top of the list), create your own Make-up/Hair Needs List (by carefully reading the script).  Consider what is needed for Make-up/Hair in each scene and for each character.  Use the Spreadsheet provided by Ms. Price.  Once your Make-up/Hair List is complete, turn it in to KP for a grade.

Task:  Discuss your Make-up/Hair list with your Design team.  As a team you will use everyone's list to compile one FINAL (Google sheets) Make-up/Hair list that you will "share" with each group member as you build and revise it.  See Ms. Price for a preferred  template to use for this spreadsheet.  Your team must consider/discuss which, if any, of the hair or make-up needs on the list will require quick changes or off-stage application.  This should be noted on your spreadsheet so that you can plan for it! (Don't forget to "share" your spreadsheet with KP, also.)  

Task: Highlight, in YELLOW, on your digital Google spreadsheet all the make-up/hair needs that are Special Needs/Effects  (These are the things you will want to order supplies for and/or start practicing on eachother right away - things such as old age make-up, or facial hair, or any other effects make-up, etc.)  Talk with KP directly about anything you think you will need to order, but be sure to do your research BEFORE talking to her about specific needs.  Leave plenty of time for ordering and delivery (several weeks at the very least).

Task:  As a team, create a Deadline Calendar for all of your make-up/hair designs, including deadlines for ordering supplies.  Assign team responsibilities and make-up artists for each character/need in the show, and determine when you will rehearse any quick changes in hair or make-up as well.  Consider each other's strengths when assigning tasks, and be sure to update your Make-up/Hair spreadsheet as needs grow or change throughout the process.



The design PROCESS starts with the script.  All designers must  read the script. Realistic and interesting designs can not be created without knowing exactly what the script requires.


Once  the NEEDS of the script are determined, all designers take the time to  INTERPRET the script:  What does it MEAN?  What's MOST IMPORTANT to convey through design?  What is the HEART of the production?  What should it FEEL like? What's the THEME?  Is there a STYLE that should be considered when designing?  Is there an important or implied METAPHOR that could be shown through design?  What COLORS, IMAGES, and COMPOSITION on stage may best support the director's telling of the story?

Watch the video below in which Tony-winning set designer Bunny Christie shares her design for the play, INK.  Notice all the ways that she references the feeling, mood, and heart of the production which she reflected in her design.  These things must be considered in all aspects of design - including hair/make-up.


Video:  Design on Stage (Bunny Christie)

Journal Entry:  Reflections on Design (Ink)

  1. What did YOU find visually interesting in Bunny Christie's design?  Why?

  2. In what ways did the designer's SCRIPT INTERPRETATION and/or RESEARCH assist in the creation of her final design?  (List at least 3 specific ways.)

After a designer has INTERPRETED the script (which is shared/discussed with the director), (s)he then goes                                      in search of  rESEARCH & INSPIRATION for the design.  This is often done by researching various aspects of the script/story, including the setting, the time period, historical references within the script, the style or genre of the piece, photos from the time period or setting, source material, etc.  A designer may also research her/his own ideas for design.  See an example of what I mean by this HERE.

For the next part of the Design Process, you will be creating a Design Board to visually display your research/inspiration. This will become the springboard for your own designs.  Read about this task below.

Task (Formative Grade):  AFTER your team has discussed and created your FINAL make-up/hair list, begin looking for INSPIRATION for the look and feel you'd like to achieve with your Make-up / Hair Design. (Note:  You MUST meet with the Director and Costume team prior to this step.) 

  • The goal of this task is to research and find information and inspiring images that will assist you in acquiring, designing, or creating realistic and visually interesting hair/make-up designs for our production. 

  • Each member of the team is responsible for researching and/or looking for inspiration for at least 3 characters (there can be overlap between team members, or you can divide and conquer)

  • Be sure your research is from credible sources, and also allow yourself to be inspired by the world around you. 

  • Creativity thrives in community, so be sure to collaborate with others and your team along the way.

  • As you research, be sure to "collect" your research/inspiration in a location that you can easily access when it's time to create your team's Design Board.

  • After research, discussions, and narrowing of ideas is complete, CREATE A (GROUP) PROPS DESIGN BOARD

  • Note:  You will be graded on your individual contributions to your group's Design Board

designing make-up & hair  

Once a designer has carefully read the script (to determine what's needed for design), and has both interpreted and researched important aspects of the script and design (which also involves design meetings with the director), (s)he can then BEGIN DESIGNING

In order to design anything, a new designer must become comfortable with failure, and leave plenty of time for it during the process.  All creative work involves multiple attempts before arriving at the best outcome.  If you "get it right" the first time, you're probably not involved in creative work, and should re-consider what you've created.  Failure is natural, accepted, and expected in this course.  However, waiting until the last minute to fail is not, so please watch your calendar closely and plan ahead!  Theatre is ALWAYS on a timeline.


Designing and creating anything that's original requires planning.  How this planning "looks" is up to you, but you need to make sure that you make your designing/planning VISIBLE.  You will do this planning in your Process Journal, and it may include sketches of your designs, photos of practice sessions on models (or the real character), and face charts.  This documentation process could also include a catalog of tutorial videos on how you learned to apply make-up (or how you learned a specific technique), interviews with experts, or documentation on mentoring you received in tool use or skill development in order to create your designs on live actors.  

Task (Formative Grade):  YOUR Process of Design & Face Charts for each Character

  • Track your process of design in your Process Journal, including any relevant research, images, sketches, pictures of prototypes, or further learning you did to create your make-up/hair design.  You must make your design process visible for this grade.  (See paragraph above.)

  • Print blank FACE charts and be sure you have created make-up designs with application directions for every character in the show.

  • Print (in color), and put in your course binder, any needed face chart directions from below: 

Task (SUMMATIVE Grade):  YOUR Completed Make-up / Hair Design (executed for the show)

dress/tech rehearsals:

Tech/Dress Deadline (Formative Grade):   Prior to Dress/Tech rehearsals, all make-up and hair design should be complete and practiced several times on the actors.  

Note:  It is the job of the Make-up/Hair team to be sure everyone brings in their own brushes, combs, hair pins, curling irons or rollers, and any actor-supplied make-up supplies (such as mascara or lip stick).  If a cast member is unable to do so, arrangements must be made in advance to be sure all actors have what they need.  Please be sure you've communicated these needs with actors far enough in advance.  (Providing actors with pictures, and/or information on where to find the items, is most helpful.)


Video:  Behind the Scenes at Disney's Aladdin

Journal Entry:  Calltime​ / Pre-Show Checklist

1. In professional theatre, as shown in this video, what are the (specific) tasks performed by YOUR (assigned) role prior to a show?  

2.  What are some of the things that YOU could put on YOUR Pre-Show checklist to be sure our show runs smoothly?  (Think of ALL the things necessary from the time you enter the black box until the show starts, including things like "Where do I put my personal belongings?" or "Where should this prop be pre-set?" or "What's the best place for this quick change to happen?" Etc.  Don't forget to include "sign in" on your checklist.)

Task (Formative Grade):  You will create YOUR Pre-Show Checklist with ALL tasks to consider prior to the show.  This MUST be well-thought out and completed/hung up PRIOR to the FIRST dress/tech rehearsal.  Type and print your checklist (with your name in large font at the top) and hang in a designated area backstage.  (Keep in mind that you will most likely need to add to this list from things you learn or are reminded of in dress/tech rehearsals.)


GO DEEPER (optional):


(This list will be added to over time.  Let KP know if you find any helpful information that could be useful to future Advanced Acting students.)

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