by Cosette Hatch, cast member
[Note from the dramaturg: As mentioned previously, the cast of The Nightingale had the unique opportunity to travel to China and train with the Peking Opera. While in China, they had the opportunity to learn theatre movement, costuming, makeup and vocal techniques while also experiencing the culture, so they could better understand the world of the play. The next couple of posts will be from cast members sharing their experiences. Enjoy!]
This is one of the actresses in the Beijing Opera putting on her makeup. After she would add something to her makeup she would stop and pull her eyes up from her temples. This was preparing her makeup for the “pulled” look she was going to have later when they use tree sap to glue on hair pieces for her full costume.
This is the same actress from the picture above putting her hair pieces on. Each individual drape of hair was soaked in tree sap overnight to make it sticky. Then they would layer the hair on and tie it very tightly with rope-like material. After they add all of the hair pieces, they add large hairpins and berets. Our translator told us that after they have all of their costuming, hair, and makeup done they develop a throbbing headache, but “just have to endure the pain.” We were later told they had to feel like this for at least 4 hours every night.
This is one of the male actors putting on his makeup. Each character has their own specific design on their face in order to differentiate between characters. Certain colors have specific meanings for the characters and their personalities. For example, black represents strength and loyalty. These kinds of characters (with the full painted faces) are called “masked characters.”
During our training at the Peking Opera training in Beijing, they decided it would be a good idea to put us all in their traditional hair and makeup. It was not very comfortable, but definitely will make for a good memory later!
Our favorite breakfast in Beijing! Typical morning of dumplings, dragon fruit, lychee, and pastries. We missed this after we traveled to Xi’an.
The Great Wall of China! So neat to spend a day with one of the world’s wonders.