Fake Beards, Cuts, and Cat Faces: All in a Day's Work!

English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages
student with stage make-up
Priscilla Rivera created a bearded character with a prosthetic nose

It’s not every day that items like “burns, cuts, and bruises” are included on the syllabus, but this is part of the course in Stephanie Peters’ Stage Makeup Class at UNC Pembroke.  Students enrolled in Theatre 1640 learn how to produce a variety of different appearances, working with prosthetics and period makeup, designing abstracted face characters and animals, and applying features like noses and beards, as well as creating realistic-looking bruises, cuts, and burns. 

Stephanie Peters has been involved in theatre productions since age ten; her father taught art and designed all of the sets for theatre productions at South Georgia Junior College and she began working on productions with him at the tender age of ten. She went on to major in Theatre at the University of West Florida and finish her MFA in Costume Design at the University of Connecticut.

Costume designers usually create color renderings that are a “blueprint” of sorts for the creation of each actor’s looks.  Renderings serve as a visual communication tool between the director and designer as well as the designer and the costume shop and other members of the design team.  When asked about her design process, Peters explained, “I like to start the conversation with research images and pencil drawings.  I then tweak the drawings as discussed in production meetings and add color with paint.”

Students in her classes benefit from that ability to communicate and develop. Sydney Oxendine, a sophomore from Fairmont, NC noted, “Ms. Peters is a great professor.  She is willing to tell us how we can improve our in-class looks and has taught us how to create looks for the stage properly.” 

Priscila Rivera, a junior from Raeford, NC appreciates the hands-on experience and instruction: “I helped with the costuming for Romeo and Juliet, and it was such an interesting process.  I was self-taught before, so this was the first time that I had to use a pattern to make the costumes.  It really helped improve my understanding of how costume design is done.”

Peters wants students to know that it takes more than attending class and completing assignments to succeed in a Theatre major and to excel at costume design since Theatre is a hands-on major and requires dedication.  Peters recommends for students to work on every show that they can in order to gain practical experience.

“Taking this course made me appreciate the productions on campus because we get the chance to see the hard work behind the scenes,” said Whitney Revels, a senior from Lumberton, NC.    

“Theatre majors need to understand the collaboration that is required in theatre production.  The greater their knowledge of all aspects of the business, the more marketable they are,” noted Peters.  “Students should take advantage of any opportunity to learn from the professionals they come in contact with,” she added.

“The show must go on” said Peters, and “we do everything we can to make the show a success.”

(some photo credits below Sara Voecks)