I wanted to write to you today about your child’s beautiful face, and why it sometimes needs a little makeup. I firmly believe that we should let our kids be kids for as long as possible and that there is no reason to force them to grow up too soon but stage makeup is an exception.
There is no reason to send your little one to a regular class with lipstick (although sparkles are always welcome), however stage time is a very different kettle of fish. Even in the smallest, most intimate settings makeup is a welcome addition to your child’s overall performance.
And here’s why:
1)first and foremost makeup improves visibility of the face’s features to the audience. Under bright lights and from a far distance your child’s beautiful eyes, lips and cheeks will become washed out and it becomes very difficult to see their smile and other features. This is particularly important if their face is “acting” for example, if your child is acting out a large yawn, makeup emphasizes the movement and helps it to translate from their face to the audience.
2) Makeup also can transform a regular person into something extraordinary and allude to traits of the character they are portraying. Imagine your child is a beautiful fairy dancing about the stage. Some colorful eye shadow and perhaps sparkles lets the audience know that she is good, yet darker makeup in a monochromatic color scheme implies she is playing the bad guy.
3) Makeup also hides flaws in the skin, just as many adults incorporate makeup into their everyday regime to perfect their appearance, it is important for performers to look their best when they are on stage (although this usually only becomes an issue once your children are old enough to make the makeup decisions for themselves)
4) Last but not least stage makeup is usually over the top and larger than life. It is not meant to look like everyday makeup from up close. Thus when your child is so done up it automatically puts him/her in performance mode. Having a constant reminder of the stage on their face reminds the performer that this is a special occasion and often makes them feel exceptional. Even if the stage is close enough and the lights are not so bright that the makeup looks a little over-the-top your child probably feels very special wearing it and proud to have the finishing touch that make him/her feel like a real performer.
And now for a little history:
The earliest known use of theatrical makeup was by Thespis, a famous Greek Actor (and where we derive the term Thespian) in an effort to stand out from the Greek chorus Thespis painted a toxic covering of white lead and mercuric sulphide to create a white and red face paint. The use of makeup for theatre became more common in the 1500’s when performers used face paint to depict characters. Performers in Elizabethan times used chalk and soot on their faces to depict characters and show expression. Also during this time period, the Japanese Kabuki theatre, a form which is known to utilize elaborate makeup, became increasingly popular. From here onwards makeup continued to be used in varying degrees and methods to enhance performances in all countries and forms of performing arts.
Now the real question… how do I apply makeup to my child’s face?
There’s no simple answer to this. Little ones can often be squirmy and resist having makeup on their face. If this is the case just go for the minimum. Use a big soft brush to apply a bright pink or red blush, pick pink or red lipstick that will stand out and if you can, get them to hold still for a little mascara (asking them to blink it on often works). For less fussy or older performers try a bold eye shadow (brown is usually a safe color), lip liner (pick a color just darker than the natural lip color) and false lashes (these may take practice and are more appropriate for older performers) are always a nice touch.
Most importantly have fun with makeup! If your child really does not want to wear it, or something feels uncomfortable don’t sweat it. After all the makeup is only there to enhance their superb dancing and expressive performance.
For some video tips on how to apply makeup feel free to check out the following links: