Observation Key for Theatrical Makeup Class

Theatre Arts associate professor Joe Kongevick constantly stresses to his students the need for strong observation skills. In his theatrical makeup class, he encourages students to get a closer look at skin tones, hair color and bone structure.

It’s an approach that helps his students create superior, detailed special effects for stage and film actors.

“Students have come back to me and said it’s helped them more than anything else in dealing with design and acting,” said Kongevick, who has taught at UT Arlington for 34 years. “It’s not just a makeup issue; I try to break our students out of the box, to get them out of their shell.”

In the theatrical makeup class, students are introduced to a variety of special effects and applications, including hair, latex, foams and plastics. In one session, they may apply beards and mustaches to their own faces; in the next, they may create scars and bullet wounds on a classmate.

“While we’re having fun, I’m teaching techniques along the way, showing the pitfalls and the correct way of doing it,” Kongevick said. “It’s all an illusion. Nothing is real.”

Kongevick, who also serves as a scene and lightning designer for Maverick Theatre Company productions, said he njoys watching movies and effects-heavy televisions shows like “CSI” to see the quality of work coming out of Hollywood.

“I watch TV and I cringe because someone screwed up on how they applied the makeup or I’m really impressed that they did a good job and they kept the illusion of the medium,” he said. “If you do your job right, the audience doesn’t realize it.”

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