Making 'Headway' in Theater

So the script of a Greek tragedy calls for a severed head. Sounds simple enough - but wait, just how do you make a prop that will realistically convey the gruesome fate of a character?

That was the task that Cassie Toft and Carter Wallace took on when they learned that the Midwestern State University Theatre Department was producing Euripides' The Bacchae. "We jumped at the opportunity to make the head," Carter said. The job meant not only making the head, but using coloring techniques and makeup applications that would express the drama of the play.

"They attacked this like graduate students," said MSU Theatre Professor Elizabeth Lewandowski. "I gave them some sample products to play with, and there was a lot of trial and error, but their follow-through was great."

Cassie and Carter experimented with different materials before they made a mold of the character's head. Once they had the mold, they cast it using silicone. They used makeup and coloring to bring out the character's features, and of course, the blood.

The project has meant more research for Lewandowski as she integrates the use of silicone into other theater projects. "MSU is on the cutting edge of using silicone in theater," she said. "It's been used in film for a long time, but is making its way into the theater." The project has been accepted for presentation at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology conference next year.

Cassie and Carter will tell about their experience in the podium presentation "How to Get a Head in Theatre" at MSU's Fourth Annual Scholarship Colloquium Friday, April 19. Podium presentations will be from 10 a.m.-noon in Clark Student Center Wichita Suites I and II. Poster presentations and demonstrations will follow from noon-2 p.m. in the CSC Atrium and Comanche Suites. Poster presentations include research from many in nursing, radiology, chemistry, biology, engineering, and other sciences and arts.

Other podium presentations include:

Brandi Stroud, Eric Smith, Neneh Abbey, Brady Tyler, and Alexandra McClung about their video documentary about a World War II Airborne Demonstration Team in Frederick, Okla. The students flew in World War II aircraft that participated in the invasion of Europe. The film, titled Legacy: Remember, Honor, Serve, recently won Honorable Mention for television documentary at the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association awards conference April 5-6.

Kayla Gray, Kory Holden, and Novelle Williams about "Why International Students Choose to Attend MSU." They will identify the criteria and information sources international students use to choose a university.

Matthew Farmer and Rob Goodfellowe about the development of the MSU2U Android and iPhone application that includes a contact list, social media integration, geo-location and campus maps, and even the fight song.

Sanjeev Mahabir about his trip to the Dalquest Desert Research Site to study aquatic insect communities in permanent and temporary streams. He will catalog the insects and their range.

Faculty presenting include West College of Education Assistant Professor Suzanne Lindt about how middle school students' perceptions of classroom goals, achievement goals, and personal goals relate to their engagement in the classroom; and Assistant Professor of Music Alan Black on his study of West African drumming.