Published in the Tallahassee Democrat on April 11, 2012
By Ashley Ames , Democrat staff writer
Tuesday afternoon was heavy in laughter and fake blood on the Florida State University campus as a group of local high school students learned the magic behind stage makeup.
Twelve 11th-graders watched School of Theatre masters student Brittany Jacob demonstrate how to create a variety of oozing bruises and wounds with latex and makeup before giving them the chance to practice on each other. Peering into dressing room mirrors and begging their peers to “do a burn next,” the students attempted to replicate Jacob’s demonstration — some more successfully than others.
“Your imagination is what you are limited to,” Jacob said.
The visit was part of Youth Leadership Tallahassee, a program focused on community engagement and awareness. The students, made up of 36 juniors from schools across Leon County, broke into groups and visited the FSU campus to see what goes into studies at the School of Dance, the College of Music and, of course, the School of Theatre. “This gives them an opportunity to see things that they normally wouldn’t see,” said Jeb Blackburn, one of the program facilitators. “They can take the skills that they learn here and hopefully then apply them in their senior year and college.”
Sharonda McThay, a junior at the Florida A&M University Developmental Research School, said the theme of the presentation was change.
“Today, the main thing was change, don’t be afraid of change,” she said. “So I have really taken that and I am going to try to implement that into my lifestyle.”
She added that she hoped to become better at socializing and networking after the conclusion of the program. She had already noticed a change in herself, she said.
“Everything since this program has gotten better,” she said, “my leadership skills, my grades have gotten better, my social skills have gotten better.”
The visit to FSU made up one of six days scattered throughout the year focused on community involvement — everything from public safety to business and government. Tuesday was creative community day, and also included a trip to Mission San Luis and the Renaissance Center.
So, how does stage makeup connect to leadership and community?
“A theater is a community effort,” said Susan Thomas, director of marketing for the FSU School of Theatre. “Everybody has a part to play, and everybody contributes to the outcome. A lot of collaboration is going on during that process… but there is a lot of communication back and forth about how we are going to get there.”
“They are building leadership skills because they have been experiencing facets of their community that they would not have been exposed to ordinarily,” she added.