Photos by RM Cristobal

“You are the canvas for your characters.”

This is what Ricci Chan, professional makeup artist and prolific local movie and theater actor, told to the students of MINT Theater Arts in the afternoon of May 7 during a lecture on Theater Makeup.

Chan is well-known for his role as “Angel” in the Philippine adaptation of the Broadway musical, Rent in 1999. If not on-cam or on stage, Chan is a lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University for Theater Makeup Design. He also works as a makeup artist and contributing writer to various local fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines.

“When you do your face for the theater stage, you don’t have to be particular to your own features. Remember, you are just a vessel for your role,” Chan said.

Unlike everyday makeup, stage makeupshould always take note of the specifications of the role the actors are playing. He enumerated four functions of makeup in theater: affected by character, born by production design, brought out by lighting design, and made to life by the actor.

“Dapat may function kung anuman yung ginagawa ninyo sa mga mukha ninyo. Every stroke and brush serves a purpose as you build your character visually through makeup,” he explains.

He reminded the thespians to be mindful of what their character should look like. “If your character is a sad, old lady, define and contour your face to look like a crinkly, frowning lady. If you have to exaggerate, go ahead. It’s theater.”

He then brought out his small luggage which contains his different makeup products and tools and explained the essential must-haves to students.

He also brushed up on how to properly navigate the color wheel so as to help an actor create a look for his or her role.

“Kailangan, alam mo rin kung gaano kalaki ‘yung venue,” he explains. “Hindi mo kailangan mag-effort to contour, blend and highlight kung’ yung seating naman ng theater mo is, say, a hundred or less.”

He emphasized that a small amount of attendees is quite near the stage and a simpler adaptation of the characters is needed. He also said makeup acts like an “amplifier” for the character to work.

He then proceed to tell students about how production design will also dictate what kind of makeup they'll have to do. “The stage set will also determine the kind of coloring you will do. Hindi naman pwedeng modern makeup pero ang play niyo Ancient Greece.” he said in jest.

Furthermore, he said that stage lights determine the mood of the play. “Know what’s the predominant light to be used in your play, that’s how you’ll choose what colors should you use to create the look,” he said.

As he finished on his aging look that he demoed on a student, Ricci left this advice to the young thespians: “Remember, you are only a vessel to your character. Try to visualize, and feel how your character should look like, and do it.” W