Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Artisans of SCR: Wig Master, Laura Caponera

Wig Master Laura Caponera and Graphic Designer Crystal Johnson.
Need a beehive hairdo? Accentuated makeup? How about a handmade wig? Or maybe a realistic-looking wound? South Coast Repertory is very fortunate to be able to turn to Wig Master Laura Caponera for any of those needs and others for any of SCR's productions.

As she begins her fourth season with SCR, Caponera has been the mastermind behind a plethora of gravity-defying wigs, prosthetics and special effects makeup.

Caponera's past work includes The Whipping Man (L) and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (R).
With One Man, Two Guvnors just around the corner, we asked Caponera to flex some of her hair and makeup muscle for a quick 1960s-inspired demonstration. SCR Graphic Designer Crystal Johnson happily volunteered to be the model for the makeover.

Follow the steps below, or check out the video, to recreate this swinging ‘60s hairdo for yourself. Get inspired by the tutorial, find a style that works for you, create it and share it with SCR posting it on social media and using #1man2Guvs.

Recreating a Period Look

The first task to tackle when recreating a hairstyle from a bygone era is to look at what you have to work with. Examine the state of your hair: its length, texture, thickness, thinness, curliness or waviness.

Keep all of that in mind as you search online for an inspiration image of a hairdo that you'd like to create. Find something you love because you'll be working from that found image and referencing it often.

For styling Johnson's hair, Caponera looked for a more youthful '60s image to match with Johnson's own age. Below is the inspiration image.

Caponera's source of inspiration for Johnson's hair.
Step 1
Found your inspiration style? Perfect! Now assemble all the tools you'll need. For the style Caponera selected, she chose the following tools: hairspray, hair clips, a fine tooth rat-tail comb, a brush and a curling iron.

Step 2
Begin the style by sectioning off your hair. Use hair clips to section out the back, sides and top. Create a horseshoe pattern in the hair, using the comb, to make carving out the section easier, then twist and clip.
Step 3
Set the curling iron at the right temperature for your hair type, then begin curling with the back section. Comb out a section from the back, place the curling iron around the middle of the strands to the root area. Note: starting curls at the ends of your hair can cause damage and doesn't distribute heat as well.
Step 4
Once the hair has been on the curling iron long enough, use the fine-toothed comb to hold the curl in place as you gently slide the curling iron out from the hair. Once the iron is out of the curl, use a hair clip to hold it in place. Repeat this process through the back section, then repeat for each side.
Caponera's Tip:
If your hair doesn't hold the curl easily, try a little hairspray! Spritz it before you place it on the curling iron.

Step 5
With the back and sides curled and in place, the next spot to tackle is the top section. To make it manageable, divide the top section into two: a front and back. Working from front to back on the top allows you easier access while curling. Starting from the back will create fewer obstacles as you try to curl the front. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for this final section.

Step 6
With everything clipped and curled, use hairspray generously to help it set into place. Let your hair cool and dry before moving on.

Step 7
Remove all hair clips from all sections except the top. Leave the top for last when you style it.

Step 8
Using a brush or comb, brush out all the curls. Extend the curl, then brush (or lightly tease) from the end of your hair to the roots. Doing this will help add fullness and volume to your hair.

Step 9
Once the hair is brushed out, the final steps will be up to you. Look at the inspiration mage to make it as close as possible. Be patient! It may take some time to get it just right.

Step 10
Accessorize with anything that may fit in that era. Caponera selected some fun colorful headbands that were reminiscent of the 1960s. Wig and Makeup Technician Gillian Woodson created the finishing touches so that Johnson's makeup to fit the era. This is where you can let your imagination run wild.

When you're done, make sure you take pictures as a keepsake and show off your work. If it's your first time creating a vintage look, don't be surprised if it takes longer than you expected. Keep trying and continue to learning as you work on it. Remember: the most important thing is to have fun.
Johnson's hair: before and after.

Learn more and buy tickets to One Man, Two Guvnors

Get to Know Laura Caponera

How did you end up creating makeup and wigs?
I studied costume design at San Francisco State University and, one day while working on Angels in America, I watched the wig person hand tying hair into a wig. Once I tried it for myself, everything changed for me. I completed an internship at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco in hair and makeup and obtained my cosmetology license, which opened many doors for me. Since then, I have learned from many exceptional professionals in the industry, and have continued my education at institutions such as Banff Center for the Arts. I am privileged to be at SCR where I’m free to utilize my skills with shows that ask me to open my mind and attempt new things every season.

Can you give us a quick idea of what you do as the wig master?
As wig master I am responsible for the care and maintenance of the wig stock. Another important part of my job is to transform the costume designer’s renderings into period or contemporary hairstyles and makeup for each production. I also support the hair and makeup technician in the execution of their duties.

Matthew Arkin in SCR's 2014 production of The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter
What do you love best about your job?
I love the people that I get to work with—all the extremely talented artisans and performers! My favorite thing to see is the moment when a performer transforms into his or her characters once they are sporting their character hair and makeup.

What’s one show at SCR that you’re particularly proud of working on?
Coordinating the special effects of the prosthetic chin makeup for The Whale was especially challenging, but well worth the effort.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Unexpected Inspirations: Qui Nguyen

Playwright Qui Nguyen and director May Adrales in rehearsal for the 2015 Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of  Vietgone
Swordfights, giant dragon puppets and an inexplicable sense of humor are hallmarks of a Qui Nguyen play. The New York Times described his infectious style as “culturally savvy comedy.” While his play Vietgone, premiering at South Coast Repertory, doesn’t have a sword fight or a dragon puppet, it does retain that Nguyen charm as he delves into the more personal story of how his parents met in Arkansas at a Vietnamese refugee camp. Vietgone strikes a balance between what SCR audiences are familiar seeing on stage and an exciting new approach to a romantic comedy.

Often credited as one of the pioneers of “geek theatre,” Nguyen established himself and his Brooklyn-based theatre company, Vampire Cowboys, as a place of pure, unabashed fun and an entertainment haven for nerds, geeks and pop culture enthusiasts—and theatregoers. In short, Nguyen knows how to show audiences a good time. In an interview with The New York Observer, Nguyen said, “Watching people cry at my plays isn’t necessarily that fun. Watching people laugh and cheer, it gives me a high.”

Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company productions
His unconventional style can be traced back to his parents, as they raised Nguyen in rural Arkansas. In an effort to expose their son to stories with Asian heroes, he grew up regularly watching kung fu movies. His parents had hoped that it would help him see the world with more people similar to him and ease the sense of being different in a less than diverse area of the country.
Once he reached college, he became frustrated over his professors’ views about what should be performed on stage. His professors deemed his use of fight scenes as more of a cinematic style. Their views only made him more interested in presenting them on stage.

Luckily, he met fellow graduate student Robert Ross Parker and soon they began collaborating, which lead to the birth of their theatre company, Vampire Cowboys. By 2002, the duo had moved to New York City and later met Abby Marcus, who would soon become the theatre's managing director. Once Marcus joined up with Nguyen and Parker, she quickly became an integral factor in bolstering Vampire Cowboys’ fan base and success.

The Vampire Cowboys booth at the New York Comic Con 2010
Marcus spearheaded grassroots marketing initiatives and a partnership with New York’s Comic Con—which continues to this day—helping to catapult Vampire Cowboys’ to wide recognition. Audiences where hooked when they experienced  Vampire Cowboys' unconventional aesthetic which blends theatre, comic books, hip-hop, action-adventure and drama.

Nguyen’s success comes through an understanding of what audiences enjoy seeing. As both a playwright and fight choreographer, he finds a sense of wonder and excitement by presenting stories in creative ways. He’s been known to pull inspiration from multiple genres that are close to his heart. “My favorite things in the world are early ‘80s hip-hop, comic books and samurai stories,” Nguyen says in an interview with American Theatre magazine. And soon, he’ll show SCR audiences what happens when he also pulls inspiration from another area of his heart—his family.

Learn more and buy tickets now

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rising to the Occasion with "Encore!"

Question: When does the encore come before the show?

Answer: When the show—SCR’s annual Gala (this season, theatrically named “Encore!”)—is preceded by a Patron Party to honor its major donors.

On Aug. 12th, the Patron Party was hosted by SCR Emeritus Trustee Tod White and his wife, Linda, at their bayside home in Newport Beach. The buzz that summer evening was all about the upcoming “Encore!” Gala, which traditionally opens both the social and theatre seasons in Orange County.

Board President Sophie Cripe, Gala Chair Socorro Vasquez, Managing Director Paula Tomei and Artistic Director Marc Masterson spoke briefly to the gathering, applauded the Gala Committee and thanked the generous supporters, who included Bluewater Grill’s Jim and Julie Ann Ulcickas, generous donors of wine for the Gala; Room & Board, providing luxury furniture vignettes at Club Encore!; Diptyque, sponsor of the Gala favors; and David Yurman, host of the Gala wrap luncheon and site of a shopping spree to benefit the Gala, hosted by Yvonne and Damien Jordan on Nov. 12.

Then, as the sun set over the bay, it was time for partying. To music by singer/guitarist Mike O’Bryan, guests sipped Tito’s Handmade Vodka Martinis, sampled hors d’oeuvres—and admired the White’s home with its stunning art collection, much of it by Linda, who works in several media, and keeps a studio in their home.

Everyone agreed that the art-filled setting the perfect place for thanking the Gala Committee and supporters of “Encore!” which will be held in three venues around, inside and atop The Westin South Coast Plaza on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

CrossRoads: Igniting Inspiration

Linda Vo, Julia Lee, CrossRoads playwright Lauren Yee, Literary Director Kimberly Colburn, Assistant Literary Director Andrew Knight at the OC & SEAA Center, UCI.
With nearly 1,000 square miles and more than 3 million strong, Orange County, Calif. is a unique area with a rich resource of cultures and stories ripe for the telling. It's a place that trumps numerous stereotypes perpetuated by shows like “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” As demographics shift and grow, so do the faces of the people who represent the county. Orange County is a place of multiple intersecting cultures and groups—with each one calling out to be heard.
Playwright Mona Mansour (center) during her August 2013 residency.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Time Warner Foundation, South Coast Repertory is answering that call with the CrossRoads initiative. The program commissions playwrights from all over the nation, but unlike a typical SCR commission, their process begins with the playwright undertaking a residency to explore the county’s diversity.

Playwrights first spend 10 days in Orange County, fully immersing themselves in the county's rich cultural, social and political life. Through their explorations, they discover diverse stories and personal connections, meeting with community organizations and individuals from all walks of life. They will then write plays either directly or indirectly informed by their residency experiences and follow their own artistic impulses.

When CrossRoads launched in 2013, SCR selected a playwright class of emerging and established names, including Luis Alfaro, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Carla Ching, Aditi Brennan Kapil, Qui Nguyen, Mona Mansour and Tanya Saracho.

In the spring of 2015, four playwrights’ works were workshopped and further developed at SCR and portions from those plays were presented to the public as staged readings. Since then, many of the plays realized through the initiative have gone on to additional staged readings, further development and are scheduled for upcoming productions at SCR and around the country.

Playwright Qui Nguyen (left) with the PPF 2015 cast of Vietgone.
Among the first group offerings were Nguyen’s Vietgone and Kapil’s Orange, which were presented at SCR’s 2015 Pacific Playwrights Festival. Vietgone also will open the 2015-16 Julianne Argyros season. Following the premiere, it will be produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2016.

In July 2015, Ching’s Nomad Hotel received development as a part of the prestigious National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Mansour’s unseen continued development at New York Stage and Film in April 2015 and during a Studio Retreat at the Lark Play Development Center in June 2015. unseen was also featured on The Kilroys’ The List 2015—a list of the top un- and under-produced plays by female playwrights.

CrossRoads will continue to tap into Orange County’s varied stories through a generous renewal of the grant from the Time Warner Foundation. With this renewal, a new class of playwrights will join the fold and experience their own residencies within the area. The second round playwrights include Dipika Guha, Adam Gwon, Octavio Solis and Lauren Yee.

Playwright Octavio Solis with Josephine "Pepa" Chindemi-Dodge during his July 2015 residency.
“These are four writers who all are at different stages of their careers,” says Artistic Director Marc Masterson. “Octavio Solis has been working with SCR since the late 1980s, but will be able to explore the community like he never has before. He and Adam Gwon spent a great deal of time working on Cloudlands at SCR a few years ago, and we’re lucky to have them both back. Adam is going to be breaking the commissioning mold of straight plays by working on a chamber musical, and we’re excited to begin new relationships with Lauren Yee and Dipika Guha.”

CrossRoads is an exciting and personal way for playwrights to approach new works. As they explore the community, they discover unique stories and form connections with individuals. It has lead playwrights to surprising discoveries and lasting connections. It’s also leading SCR to new discoveries.

“It’s having an impact on how we think about our commissioning program and playwright residencies,” says Masterson. “We’re developing an exciting model for the future.”

Learn more about CrossRoads and the playwrights.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Costumes Go Full Swing into the Sixties

Brad Culver, Dan Donahue, Sarah Moser, Claire Warden, William Connell and Helen Sadler in One Man, Two Guvnors. Photo courtesy of mellopix.com
The 1960's. It was a time of revolution. Counter-culture, individualism and skirt lengths were on the rise. The British had invaded the world through music and fashion. It was a time filled with short hair and infectious style that pushed boundaries.
Fashion model, Twiggy helped popularize the mini-skirt

After the conservatism of the 1950s, the following decade broke free from it and pushed the envelope on style. The mini skirt was introduced and women's fashion was forever changed. "Shorter was better" could have been a slogan as women fell in love with the mini skirt. Dresses from the shift style to baby doll kept it above the knee. New materials—including plastic—were being used for clothing to create more interesting and daring options for women.

 Throughout the '60s, men's clothes softened to a more effeminate look. Pants got tighter, hair got longer, turtlenecks were popular and by the end of the '60s, seeing a man in a silk scarf wasn't that unusual. Bright colors and intricate prints, for both genders, were wholly embraced.

The Beatles
Straight out of London, the Mod style was increasingly popular in England and the United States—in due part to the mop-top foursome, The Beatles. Clean, straight lines and tighter-fit suits dominated menswear. For the rest of the decade, John, Paul, George and Ringo would continue to influence men's styles as their own tastes shifted throughout the decade.

SCR's season opener, One Man, Two Guvnors, transports audiences to 1963 England, an epicenter of fashion at the time. The 1960s comes to life with colorful costumes designed by Meg Neville. Since it is the early '60s, it was a time of transition, just the beginnings of go-go boots and ascots. Neville's designs give both a nod to the 1950s and display the revolutionary styles of the 1960s.

Check out Neville's costume renderings and a few production shots below to spot the 1960's looks:

Photo Gallery by QuickGallery.com

Learn more and buy tickets.

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.