As was noted elsewhere, I performed in Mystery, Maestro, Please!, the benefit at the Saugus Public Library held this past weekend. My part was that of a disfigured recluse director who generally did his best to avoid other people (with an obvious nod toward Phantom). In spite of the rainy weather, the attendance wasn't too bad; ironically in fact lots of people purchased tickets the night of the performance, but lots of people who had prepurchased tickets didn't show.
My role suggested fairly heavy makeup. Actually, I had briefly toyed with the idea of making one really understated scar, as that would have been quite funny when played against the lines provided, but I chose to go in the other direction instead and tried for the literal heavy scarring described. When I was fully dressed for the part, I did in fact look quite a bit different from my normal self. How different? Well, when I first emerged from the bathroom with just the wig and glasses, my eighteen month old daughter wasn't too sure how to react to me (she got used to it though and didn't have any further difficulty when I later added the fake scars and the rest of the costume). My own mother and a couple of my siblings who attended the show (and who didn't have any advance warning of how I'd be dressed) also didn't recognize me until they got fairly close; in fact, when she first saw me my mother thought I may have been the new library assistant director. Thus anyone who had read my writings here or there or anywhere else and wanted to attach a face to them was perhaps out of luck.
On the whole (at least so I'm told) the show went well, and people seemed to like my makeup job. I got quite a few queries regarding how it was done, so I figured I'd describe here the techniques used.
The clothing that the script required consisted of a velvet smoking jacket and related attire as would be appropriate for an old-style director. I managed to find a velvet jacket that more or less fit me in a local thrift shop, and my wife modified it to be a little more fancy. She also modified a shirt for me to add frills to both the sleeves and collar, and fashioned an oversized bow tie to top it off. Shined leather boots and an old pair of gray dress pants completed the outfit. The overall effect was of something the third Doctor might wear (in fact, the modifications my wife made to the velvet jacket were inspired by one of the good Doctor's own jackets).
With regards to my face, I started by first buzzing my hair down to just a quarter of an inch or so and shaving off my sideburns. This enabled me to believably wear a wig, and my wife had inexplicably acquired the perfect one at a yard sale some years earlier. It was long, dark, and unkempt looking. She helped me fashion it into a quick ponytail and it ended up looking greasy and unwashed, but surprisingly real. It also helped hold the broken glasses that I had to wear in place.
The scarring was a little more time consuming to get right. My wife and I combined various ideas that we had and the end results seemed to work out. We started by liberally applying a base to one side of my face. Wy wife's skin is significantly darker than mine, though, so her base makeup didn't match my skin color. We compensated (and thickened the mixture in one swoop) by mixing in white toothpaste. This not only helped the color more closely match, but it left my entire face minty fresh. We then stretched little bits of cotton and placed them more or less vertically onto the base, and covered them with more base makeup; the combination does a pretty good job of mimicking the texture of old scar tissue. We used a blow drier to speed up the drying process; amazingly even at full blast a few inches from my face it didn't feel hot -- in fact without the drier the toothpaste actually made my face feel really cold. Finally when it was dry, we carefully dabbled blush onto it all to blend it in with my real skin. We were both pleased with the overall results.
It held up quite well through the performance, but didn't look too good after getting rained on afterwards. Most of it peeled off pretty easily, although I had to use some of my wife's special makeup soap to get rid of the smell.
If anyone who attended has any comments (good or bad), I'd be delighted to hear them.
Also, on a completely unrelated note, I added I've added another installment to my beginners' guide to using the Internet. This one covers some of the basics of using a modern browser. Future articles will go into more detail. I've not been too fast in getting these installments posted; if anyone who is reading them regularly would like to see them come out more quickly, please let me know and I may be inspired to pick up the pace.