Today’s post is in response to Madelyn’s question about doing hair for a theatrical production. I’m not familiar with the specific show requested so I don’t know what types of characters you are working with. However, I have done hair for a bunch of shows. For stage production hair design, your first priority must be durability. I can hear my authenticity-focused re-enacting readers fainting for that statement, but authenticity takes second place to the hair lasting the length of the show (or at least until intermission when you can touch it up and fix things). As the actors change costumes, fragile styles will get messed up, and even the most spectacular authentic style will look awful by the end of the first act if it isn’t really secure. When in doubt, use more pins! Depending on the actress’ hair type, gel can be great for getting hair to hold a shape and stay in place. Hairspray is useful for keeping the surface of a style smooth.
For a production, it’s important to capture the look of a an era, but you don’t have to be 100% accurate. Remember, the audience is some distance from the actors, and they won’t be able to see the hair styles that clearly. They just need to be the right general shape to help everyone believe that they are in the time period. Some thoughts would be things like “During this era . . . ”
- Is the style worn high on the head, the back, or near the neck?
- Should their be fullness at the sides? The top?
- Which is representative of the era– center part, side part, or no part?
One other thing to consider is if the character will wear a hat any time during the show. A beautiful up-do will look ridiculous if the actress had to perch her hat on top because her style is too big.
The following style suggestions will apply most directly to shows that are set in the 1800s– anything by Dickens, Little Women, any other Louisa May Alcott books, Anne of Green Gables, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, any other “pioneer” plays, Sherlock Holmes, etc.
For little girls, braids are a great choice. I would try this one https://rapunzelsresource.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/luana-braids/ or the looped up variation here https://rapunzelsresource.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/luana-loops/. If at all possible, try not to leave any hair down because it will look messy very quickly. For little girls with very short hair that you can’t braid, a bow holding back one side and the ends curls under looks adorable. Think Lucy from the the first Narnia movie http://www.spareoom.net/gallery/?level=picture&id=219.
For women, try styles that start with at least some hair in hair ties as a base. If you do, the hair style will be much more stable because the pins will have something to grab. Your best option is going to be variations on the Civil War ball style https://rapunzelsresource.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/1860-ball-style/. You can start most of your actresses off with the first three steps and then braid one girl’s hair, twist another’s, etc. For an actress with very short hair, try the Gibson Roll https://rapunzelsresource.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/gibson-roll/, but skip the curls.
Any other tips for doing hair for a play?