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Wig and Makeup Design & Technology

Wig and Makeup Design & Technology
Photo shot behind two people demonstrating wig and makeup work for a room

The Theatre School’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Wig and Makeup Design & Technology gives students the opportunity to explore and expand their artistic and visual expression while providing practical experience. Modeled after a professional Wig and Makeup Artist’s process, the program provides training in wig construction and styling, makeup design and application, styling of actors’ hair, and creation of makeup prosthetics. The program allows students to collaborate with actors, directors, designers, technicians, and our professional makeup shop staff. The skills learned in the BFA Wig and Makeup Design & Technology program will prepare students for careers in theatre, film, and other entertainment industries.

Students learn from a distinguished award-winning faculty of professional designers and artists, both in the classroom and through individual guidance and advising during production work. Students receive formal and informal feedback from faculty through portfolio presentations and exhibits of their work each year.

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BFA Wig and Makeup Design & Technology Curriculum

The first year curriculum is taken in collaboration with students in other areas of theatrical design and technology and is an immersion into the culture of production and design. Students explore common themes and approaches to thinking metaphorically and abstractly with an appreciation of design as an aesthetic distinct from the other arts, and awareness of design considerations as manifested in theatrical productions. Students begin drawing training and take coursework in costume technology. The first year-long course in Wig and Makeup Design & Technology begins this year, with a focus predominantly on makeup. Students complete three production crew assignments which will usually include one or two assignments in their area of study and one or two in another area of production.
Second year students further their training with the year-long sequence of Wig and Makeup Design & Technology II coursework. Coursework in this series includes training in hair cutting, coloring, and manipulation. Advanced period makeup and hairstyling, in addition to wig and facial hair ventilation, will be explored. Students will take a course in costume design as well as a two-course series in the history of costume, hair, and makeup. Students continue their drawing progression with rendering courses. Costume Technology courses may include topics in costume crafts or millinery. Students work on three productions as assistants to third and fourth year Wig and Makeup Design & Technology students.
In the third year, students take the Wig and Makeup Design & Technology III series, which includes advanced training in wig and facial hair production and maintenance; in-class projects will focus on larger period or fantastical plays with complex situations. Advanced training in the styling and manipulation of diverse hair types is included in both class and production work. Costume technology coursework may again include topics in costume crafts or millinery. Students work collaboratively with their peers to propose and justify design concepts and further develop their drawing and rendering ability. Students work closely with the production team, makeup shop, and costume shop while designing and holding leadership roles on two shows in our production season.

The fourth year is a transition year, further developing students' abilities and preparing students to enter the profession. Students will take coursework in advanced makeup (with a focus on prosthetics) as well as a portraiture class. Students also explore other areas of theatrical design and technology through electives. Production work continues as students design and hold leadership roles on two productions in our production season and can be placed in a professional internship of their choosing. Additionally, students will develop a professional portfolio and receive resume training while in the final year of the program.

At the end of each year, The Theatre School hosts a Graduate Showcase event to showcase the work of our graduating design and technology students. Under the guidance of the faculty, graduating students prepare a showcase exhibit of their portfolio – which is presented in Chicago for artistic directors, alumni, and other members of the theatre, film, and television industries.

Liberal Studies

In addition to the major's requirements, students complete 52 quarterly credit hours (13 courses) in the university’s Liberal Studies Program. Courses are taken in theatre history, writing, quantitative reasoning and technological literacy, philosophical inquiry, religious dimensions, scientific inquiry, understanding the past, multiculturalism in the United States, and electives. These liberal studies courses are scheduled during the first three years of the program.

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