I recently interviewed Giuseppe Cannas, Head of Hair and Make Up at the National Theatre. The article hasn’t appeared yet (although you can read a great interview with him in The Guardian here). but just a few facts and figures that impressed me:
– Every single actor and understudy at the National has their own custom made wig. It takes 40 hours minimum to make by a team of expert knotters, at a cost of £1500-£2000.
– The hairs – which are real – are knotted onto the wigs one at a time. Imagine the concentration needed!
– At one time, the hair and make up team will be working on nine plays – six in performance, and three in production.
– Giuseppe’s predecessor, Joyce Beagarie, had been in the job for 38 YEARS before he took over – that’s since the National Theatre first opened.
– The team gets just 6 weeks to prepare for a show, including research, making the wigs, dress runs and choreographing quick changes.
– Quick changes have to happen in literally seconds – that can include new costume, make up and hair/wig change. Phew!