Paisley Opera

Whilst studying towards my HND Make-Up Artistry, I had to find a theatrical production which required hair and make-up. In addition, I had volunteer my time to create makeup or hair looks for this. This was to gain experience in working in that environment and prepare us for leaving college. I reached out to Paisley Opera in November 2017. They were in the midst of preparing for their debut performance in December 2017, “The Witches Of Paisley” in Paisley Abbey.


I spoke with Paisley Operas Artistic Director, Simon Hannigan. And The Witches Of Paisley’s Set Designer, Ruben San Roman Gamez, and Costume Designer, Marta Aspe. We discussed the theme of the show and what they required me to do. After reading the script and having a discussion, we agreed that it would be beneficial to bring in another few make-up artists. Because of the limited timings, they would help with the 40 strong cast who all required makeup with some requiring hairstyling. I teamed up with some of my classmates. We all attended the dress rehearsal on the 4th December 2017, where we tried out several types of makeup. These were ranging from subtle and natural, to bold and colourful, to dark and striking.

Once we agreed on the final look, we ensured all the other creatives and director involved in the show where happy. After that we created sketches of the make-up and prepared for the two show nights on the 8th & 9th of December.

About The Makeup

The main female characters had striking red and black eye makeup. We smoked the makeup out towards the hairline at either side of the eye, and down to a point down the sides of the nose, creating a dramatic effect. The main male characters had black shading on their foreheads and under the cheekbones, to give their faces a stern, almost evil look. The rest of the cast where all to be poor, dirty, aged and unwell looking. We did this with the use of powders and pencils to create wrinkles, under-eye bags, dirty patches of skin, and discolouration.

Show Time

On both show nights there was a very short turnaround time from when the cast arrived, to when the show started. Therefore, we knew we had to remain organised and work strategically through all the makeups to ensure the whole cast was ready with plenty of time. On both nights we had a team of 3 makeup artists, with myself being the lead artist. We worked as a team, co-coordinating with the cast and crew to make sure everything ran smoothly. I wasn’t sure we would manage to get all of the cast ready on time. However we completed all the make-ups before the time slot. Therefore, all the cast & crew could relax briefly backstage before curtain up.

In conclusion I thoroughly enjoyed working on this theatre production. This was an amazing experience to be part of, as it showed me what to expect in this busy fast paced environment and the reward of seeing the finished work on stage was incredible.

The Witches Of Paisley

Below are some of the images from behind the scenes and the show itself. If you’re intrigued by the creation of makeup for a theatre production, then have a look through the images. If you have questions or queries, please complete a contact form or leave a comment, and I will get back to you!

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