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Real-World Experience for Students in Local Production

16 May 2019

Melbourne Polytechnic specialist make-up students are running away to the circus – getting real-world experience with a community theatre group.

Students from the Diploma of Screen and Media (Specialist Make-up Services) will be crafting the characters of clowns, carnival folk and circus performers for the Carnival of Shadows show in June.

Performed by inclusive theatre group City of Voices, the production features carnival folk by day and their shadow selves by night, giving the make-up students a chance to showcase their skills in working with diverse clients – and letting their imaginations run wild.

Student Bailey Spencer is already full of ideas for the look of the circus folk, planning the assigned characters and thinking about clowns with white faces and big red lips, gypsy make-up and ‘fun little characters with their own quirks’.

‘We are all pretty excited a and when we do the make-up we are all going to have a couple of people so we can plan it all out and fit it better to the character,’ Bailey says.

‘It’s really exciting to meet everyone, some really great people and we get to work with them and do something we love and it’s really great there actually is an industry out there for it

‘It’s really enjoyable, you feel really good knowing what you are doing and being able to pull off a good job.’

Bailey appreciates the opportunity to work with a diverse range of people, across all ages and abilities.

‘You really do need to learn how to be able to work with all kinds of people,’ he says.

‘It’s really important in the industry to know how to talk to your clients.’

Their work with City of Voices counts towards the students’ required placement hours.

Make-up teacher Lynn Hunt says placements such as this one give the students the opportunity ‘to use the techniques they’ve learned in class and apply them to performers as they would do in industry.

‘As it is a production company that is based on diversity it means that students will develop skills in working with a range of people.

‘They do a lot of placement and it really enriches them so that when they do go into industry they are in a more advantageous position because it’s not just classroom delivery, it means that they’ve actually done a lot of work already on their professional practice and employability skills.’

There is a minimum number of placement hours for the course but students often exceed it.

Bailey says other placements this year include supporting Melbourne Polytechnic theatre students with their own production, and a hair salon photo shoot.

‘There’s a lot of different kinds of make-up and it really helps if you try them all out in industry.’

After completing the one-year course, this time next year Bailey would like to be working as much as possible – ‘freelancing doing any make-up jobs, bridal, small shows, short films, I’d like to maybe join a prosthetics company - I’m looking for as many jobs as I can.’

The Carnival of Shadows opens on Wednesday 5 June at Saint Martin’s Place, 374 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda. Grab your tickets here! 

Image: Georg Zielke