Macbeth… something wicked this way comes!

GPLT’s production of Macbeth opened this past Thursday to the highest attended opening night this season!  It is the 51st season for Grande Prairie Live Theatre (they are almost as old as me!)

I have a crew of five – one dedicated to hair, three for make-up, and me.  I’ve been concentrating on the witches and their hair, beards and mustaches and sfx.  I stick around until the show is finished to remove Hecate’s (the queen of the witches) crown and help the other witches remove things from their hair, and to make sure the sfx is all put away.  It means this past week I was up way past my bedtime five nights out of seven.

The general manager of the theatre has been taking photos during performance and sharing them with us which is wonderful!  Here are some of the ones he has sent to me.


This first one is the wounded sergeant – this was dress rehearsal, we’ve added more “dirt” since.


This is Lady Macbeth… this shot shows off the amazing scenic painting by local artist Tim Heimdal – look closely.


The three weird sisters.


Weird Sister #2.


Weird Sister #1.


Weird Sister #3.


Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.


Three weird sisters and Hecate, Queen of the Witches.


You can see Hecate’s crown pretty well in this shot.  I’m doing her make-up gold to match the crown and her costume.


Macduff and Macbeth’s head.


Malcolm and Macbeth’s head. Final scene of the show.


This was a posed shot after Friday’s performance .

I decided after dress rehearsal to change the make-up and use face paints instead on the witches.  It makes them more  other worldly and shows up well.  All the hair is theirs, teased and sprayed (we’ve gone through three cans of hairspray already), have used nicotine stain on the three sisters’ teeth, and there are twigs in their hair too.


Here is a shot of me working on a witches’ hair… takes a lot of concentration.


This shot of Macbeth really shows the scenic painting… if you couldn’t see it in the photo of Lady Macbeth!

Tickets are still available – show runs till April 26th.




Macbeth: In the flesh

Yesterday I did a bit more latex work on  Macbeth and fixed up the nose and sealed up the mouth.  Added some flesh around the neck cut too by attaching pieces of fabric softener sheet to disguise the straight edge of the lid attached for the base.

Then I applied a primer coat of white PAX paint – PAX is a mixture of acrylic paint and pros-aide medical adhesive that adheres to rubber.  I let that dry completely then applied two coats of flesh coloured PAX.  I used up my supply doing this so will have to re-stock before my next major project.

I rigged up a couple of hangers so I could suspend the head over the heater – I needed it to be completely dry before handling.  The PAX can stick and lift off if not completely dry.


While this was drying I built a “crown” for Hecate (queen of the witches).  I only found out about this yesterday when I stopped at the theatre to pick-up a wig and was shown photos of Hecate from another performance and also saw the costume.   So… hit Dollarama and Michael’s for stuff, found a couple of very cool LED headbands on clearance at Target, etc.  And created a rather cool crown which will be woven in with the actor’s own hair.  I’m really happy with it – and black duct tape is da bomb!!

I also cut up two wigs – I couldn’t find one dark enough brown so will be layering a lighter brown and black in strips to approximate the correct shade for Macbeth’s hair – it will be bloody too so should all work fine.  Here are the strips laid out so I could get an idea of how it will look.  It is like attaching a whole lot of extensions to the head.  I’m going to use tacky glue to do that, one strip at a time.


Once the head was dry I did a coat of straight acrylic paint in a paler shade.  This will give me a flat, tack free surface to work on.  I left the patch at the back of the skull as I was holding it there while painting it.  I’ll be filling it in later.


I’ll lay the hair next I think, at least most of it up the back of the skull, and work on the handle – I picked up some narrow drapery ties to use and will weave some of the hair into them.  Some hair needs to be tacked down around the face – to hide the lack of ears for one thing!

Then I’ll attach eyelashes and some hair for eyebrows before laying hair by hand around the hairline.  I’ll have to check with the actor about his beard – he will adjust his hair length to match what I do but I need to make sure that any beard I lay will match his natural shape.

I also found out yesterday that they need blood packs for on stage fight scenes, SFX on stage, etc.  Would have been nice to get some specifics a little earlier than 10 days before dress rehearsal.


Macbeth’s Head, The Sequel

Today I finished construction of the head and secured a rope suitable for using as the handle, which will be disguised later with hair.  At one point it looked more like Robocop without his helmet, but that was just a stage he was going through.

First thing was to wash off most of the powder – just wiped it down with a damp cloth.


Then I threaded the rope (a drapery pull) through the head and secured it.  I used the lid from a yoghurt container to create a stop on the neck to prevent the knot from pulling through the styrofoam.


And here is the top, I’ll attach a longer “handle” once the hair is going on.


I added a short piece of dowel through the knot for greater security, trimmed the tassel off and started to pack pads around the neck and jaw line to fill in the hollows, and connect the neck to the chin.  After I cut up and applied the Always pads (very handy those being adhesive!) I covered with used dryer sheets cut into strips and the blue latex.


I did it in stages.  I did both sides to about the “cheek bones” and all around the neck, sealing up the edges of everything on the lower part of the head.

This is his “Robocop” phase… there is quite a difference from the face to the skull level at this point.  I used a blow dryer to get the latex dry before continuing.  What I like about using the used dryer sheets is that they are very strong and when dried the latex isn’t tacky so powdering it is not essential when working on it.  I did powder the base just to be safe as I was balancing it in the cake cover and didn’t want it sticking to the plastic and drips of latex.


Then I worked on leveling the top of the head – cut up strips of Always and laid them on top of each other until it was level – quite easy as each piece was sticky and stayed where I put it!  Then I applied the strips of latex soaked dryer sheets to seal it all up.


I covered the whole head with the dryer sheets and latex to ensure there were no weak points, and leveled it all off.   He has a nice skull and jaw line now.


Now, he will sit and dry out completely.  I will paint him next Saturday, and start applying the hair after the paint is dry.  I bought a wig and will have to trim it back to match Derek’s hairline.


I’m really happy with it.


Macbeth’s head

So far… this is what has happened.  Took an impression of Derek’s face… took about an hour all told, with pulling his hair back, covering it, covering his lashes and eyebrows with cold cream, wrapping his hair-line with Saran Wrap… then mixing my pre-measured alginate and water, applying the alginate and then several layers of plaster bandages and some burlap.  Then waiting for it to dry enough to remove.


It came off easily.  Derek left.

I then gave the alginate a few minutes to cure while I cleaned up the mess.  Then I painted the inside with red liquid latex.  I used red because I had a couple of bottles of it  - although, it did really help to see the edges when I was removing it from the mould!


I let it dry in stages balanced on a cake cover.  I was stuffing cotton balls into the crevasses – the eye sockets, the nose, the chin, etc. and soaking with latex so the rubber would hold the shape once it came out of the mould.


Then I shoved a styrofoam head into it!  I switched to the blue liquid latex as I’d used up all the red – Tena pads really soak up the latex!  I was using absorbent pads to stuff in around the head to fill in the voids, then soaking them with latex.  The goal is to keep this light and solid.  The styrofoam head had a hole in the base already so I used a carving knife through the top of the head to make an opening all the way through and sealed up the crumbling bits with latex.  I sat it in the bathroom where it is very warm to dry out a bit… and clean up again as I spilled blue latex all over my lap, the chair and the floor.  Luckily I’d left the drop cloth down from the other mess… but… the chair, unfortunately now has a blue stain.  Oh, and my underwear were attached to my, um, stomach, yeah, my stomach… kinda hurt pulling them off later.


Next step was getting it out of the cast… which is very, very important and stressful!  If it didn’t come out or the alginate wouldn’t separate from the latex I would have a big problem.  I had done a test with the latex and alginate the day before and the latex peeled right off but that was flat…this had nooks and crannies to deal with.  I covered my hands with baby powder and started easing the edges of the latex away from the alginate… I had to be careful as I wanted the styrofoam head to stay connected as that was going to keep the face in the right shape.  It took a long time as I had to work around the edges which were pretty thin, until I got the “pop” of sections separating.  I kept adding powder to keep the latex from sticking to itself – if it does that, total disaster!

It took a lot of work to get the nose loose.  That area was a bit messy as the nostrils were left open (so Derek could breath) during the casting process, and the latex had “bled” out the holes, so it did not want to let go.  Finally it did and that area will need a lot of attention.  I trimmed off a fair bit to get the nose close to normal.

It all came out great though!  I cut the mouth open and stuffed a ton of tissues and more padding into the face to fill out the cheeks, the eyes, the nose and the mouth area – while the inside latex was still damp.


And that’s the stage it is at now.  I needed to let the latex completely dry before continuing on.  Now I need to attach the rope which will be hidden when done, that will support the head being held up.  I have to design a way to secure it for repeated use without pulling through the head or crumbling the styrofoam.  Then, more padding to build up the shape of the head, then seal it all, paint it, lay the hair, and figure out how to make blood drip out on stage!

Dress rehearsal is March 31 so I have a couple of weeks to get it finished.


And that’s a wrap!

Last night was closing night for The Shape of Things at Grande Prairie Live Theatre.   It is not often that you get an opportunity to body paint the same thing nine plus times over a period of a few weeks!  Typically I never practice a design before executing it, so this was a treat to be able to change things up each time, to tweak it and decide what I liked best about it.

Here is a series of shots from each night (except for the seventh… forgot my camera, duh!)

Statue Mar 2014-page-001

Brendan was great to paint and we did a “shoot” every night before they opened the house.  A lot of audience members didn’t realize that he was a real boy! LOL

I was trying to be “arty” and get a mirror shot here, but couldn’t manage it without being in the shot.


Last night we had the entire paint done in less than 40 minutes, which was my goal.  If I had some Fardel cream I think we could have had it done in half an hour or less – we spent a LOT of time working the white to get an opaque finish.  We, meaning myself and Cazzie who was assisting.  We split him in half with me putting the base on top and she was doing the legs (I don’t bend well).  Then I would use the grey to add some shadow and depth to the abs and other areas, then I did the darkest marbling and Cazzie would sponge on random light green, then she would add in marbling with light green while I finished up the darker and then one of use would add in white highlighting.  The wig would go on before we started the marbling as there were lines to match up with, like on the briefs/grapes.

When we were done we would go down to the stage and Cazzie would do any touch-ups required – usually hands and inner thighs… here’s a shot of that, you know, just to help you understand the great lengths we go to, to ensure the best finish possible…


It was a lot of fun to do.

The next show is Macbeth.  Today I am casting the actor’s head to construct the prop for the decapitation scene… I love my job!



Here is a photo of the statue I am creating for “The Shape of Things” currently running at Grande Prairie Live Theatre.   The opening scene is set in an art gallery and the statue is a required prop… they didn’t like the one they’d ordered so instead I get to paint one for them every night of the show’s run.  I love my job!



I’m still trying to get the white to match the briefs (which are painted with craft acrylics).  I used the last of my Fardel cream white on the zebra I did last month and there are no North American suppliers of that brand – which, IMO, is the best coverage.  I’ve been using what I have on-hand.

It is taking less than an hour to do him.  I am hoping by the last night we’ll be finishing in less than 40 minutes.


I am still here… barely

It has been pretty hectic around here.

Our full-time aide quit essentially on no notice, one of the casual’s took over but only four days a week.  So we’ve been trying to hire a permanent part-time aide for Friday & weekends – every time I think we have one lined up, they back out!  I’m getting very frustrated.  I HAVE to have someone for Fridays.  And the new full-timer is only going to be available until June 20th, so the part-time could take over full-time at that point.

I had to take mom to work with me the day after the old full-time aide quit.  And I am going to have to take her with me for at least two-days next week while the new full-timer as to go to Edmonton for medical appointments.  It is not a big issue to take mom to work BUT our washroom is NOT accessible and it is very uncomfortable for mom to sit all day in her wheelchair.

The new casual we hired is working out, but she got a day-job the day after accepting our casual job, so she is only available for evenings and weekends.  The evenings are really important as I am committed to three shows at the theatre starting this coming week until June.

I’ve got an interview scheduled tomorrow with another potential part-timer, I hope.  Haven’t heard back to confirm it yet.

I’ve been fairly busy with make-up and painting jobs.  Prepping for body painting for a show starting next week – it is going to be a ton of fun!  I’ve been painting accessories and styling the wig.  We did a test make-up last week and I am very happy with it.  I had to do a quick review of faux finishes – Does anyone remember The Furniture Guys?

Yesterday I taught bridal make-up all day to teachers at a professional development/in-service day for the school districts.  And I will also be teaching at the Mighty Peace Teachers Convention in March.  I’ve been booked to teach five blocks of make-up to drama/cosmetology teachers.

On Monday, which is Family Day here in Alberta, I will be at Muskoseepi Park with my crew painting from 12-4 p.m.  They are having a big event with lots of activities for families.

Next weekend I have a booking to paint at a dance school on Saturday, then on Sunday my crew and I will be painting at the Timbits Jamboree from 1 to 6 p.m.

There is a lot happening at work too.

I’m not really getting any downtime, and if I get a few hours to just sit I discover I forgot to do paperwork or the bills are due.  Or the driveway needs clearing or the dishes need doing.  I’ve given up dusting entirely.

I’ll post photos of the body painting next weekend once the show opens.  In the meantime, here is a random photo – my clematis in Summer…


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April 2014
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Shannon Fennell

Shannon Fennell

International Award Winnning Make-Up Artist, Face & Body Painter

I am a professional make-up artist with credits in film, television, theatre and editorial.  My face painting book YOUR FACE OR MINE was published in 2007 by Snazaroo USA Inc. is widely available worldwide and I offer a multitude of make-up related services and retail instructional products for face painters.

Some of my awards include 2005 International Face Painter of the Year, 2006 Winner of Fantasy Worldwide Face Painting Contest in Putte, Belgium, Second Place at the 2007 US Body Painting Festival, as well as over 50 other awards and prizes. 

I love creative projects and can do everything from wedding make-up to custom SFX appliances, large scale international sporting events to individual appointments at Halloween, birthday parties to trade shows.  No job too big or too small.


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