We participated in a number of special face painting projects this past year, including providing the makeup for a school’s production of The Lion King in March 2012. My wife Lorraine did the painting with Jennifer Wade. There were 60 students in the show, and they had a limited amount of time to paint them, which tends to be the norm for school productions. Previously we had done face painting at Field Days for this school of students with special educational needs, and have seen that some of them are uncomfortable with the tactical experience of having their faces painted. For the school production, however, the students were really enthusiastic about being transformed into their animal characters by the makeup. They did the show for the school during the day, then Lorraine and Jennifer had the chance to see how it looked and make some design adjustments for the evening show for parents — and some of the school staff got painted as well.
The students and staff had made headpiece masks like the Julie Taymor Broadway production, and Lorraine worked within that same style with makeup designs related to African body art to support the masks rather than take focus from them. In a brief video, Julie Taymor explains that her use of masks above the head (rather than over the face) allow both the animal and the human (the actor) to be perceived at the same time, a visual equivalent to the way animals are anthropomorphized in folktales.
Her use of the mask above the head evokes, for me, the ceremonial lion’s mane headdresses of Maasai men, and she uses a red makeup pattern for the lion characters also evocative of the Maasai.
learn more about our school programs at agostinoarts.com