Pictured: Several actors doing preliminary makeup work with Makeup Designer Shanna Jones. Photo courtesy of Spinning Tree Theatre.
In this 3-part series, PerformInk takes you inside Spinning Tree Theatre’s production of CASA VALENTINA through blog posts written by the people behind the scenes. To read past “Inside” articles click here.
By Shanna Jones, Makeup Designer
I was unfamiliar with the play when I was hired to create the makeup design. I knew it took place in the early 1960’s and it was about a group of men who secretly dressed as women, but I had no idea how wonderfully challenging the job would be! The characters of CASA VALENTINA are complicated men expressing and exploring their truest selves by dressing as women. This was not about drag, neither was it about simply throwing on a dress and slapping on some lipstick. The goal for these men was to truly pass as women. Their looks were real and natural, emulating the women around them. I realized I couldn’t draw up a bunch of makeup plots and tell them what to wear. The actors would need to work with me, choosing the colors and shades that best expressed the girl within each of them.
My first step was sitting down with each actor, one on one, looking through old fashion magazines and photos of the real members of Casa Susanna. Eventually, each actor was able to tell me what look felt right for their specific character.
Because many of the characters apply at least some portion of their makeup on stage, the next step was makeup tutorials. The men spent a good chunk of time during rehearsals learning how to apply the makeup. This was a huge challenge but they all did an incredible job.
Over the course of this process, I began to realize that when these men put on their makeup they weren’t covering up. They were shaking off the mask of masculinity, giving themselves the freedom to explore their own femininity. This was such a powerful revelation, especially living in a time when the parameters of gender and sexuality are constantly changing and being redefined. I have been profoundly moved and inspired by the story of CASAVALENTINA. I can’t wait for the rest of Kansas City to experience this beautiful play!
CASA VALENTINA runs October 27th – November 12th. For more information visit spinningtreetheatre.com.
Shanna Jones (Makeup Designer) Spinning Tree: Debut. Kansas City: Between the Lines, Side by Side by Sondheim, The Diary of Anne Frank, Sunday in the Park with George, Stillwater, Hair: Retrospection, Santaland Diaries (Kansas City Repertory Theatre). New York: Undone, Decline and Fall (New York Theatre Workshop). Chicago: Tug of War; Foreign Fire & Civil Strife (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Regional: Les Misérables (Pioneer Theatre Company); Romeo and Juliet (Utah Shakespearean Festival); Saturday’s Voyeur, Cabaret (Salt Lake Acting Company). Education: BFA University of Utah. AEA member. www.shannajonesmusic.com