1.0 Background to the Study
Costume and Makeup remain two of the most fundamental visual elements of the theatre. Theatre historians trace the origin of the arts of the theatre to ancient Greece with the dramatic rituals which they enacted both as a form of entertainment and as a tool for social celebration and communication. Costume and makeup according to Brockett, were some of the most vital elements that enhanced these successful performances. Thus, through the wearing of masks and other stylized costumes, they impersonated men, animals, or supernatural beings and mimed the desired effects. Simply put, out of such dramatic rituals, theatre is said to have emerged (18).
From the above, it could be deduced that the arts of costume and makeup first emanated from the dramatic rituals of the early men, from whence they evolved into being two of the most visually instructive elements of the theatre. According to Cohen, costume has always been a major element in the theatrical experience. It is the vehicle for the “dressing up” that actors and audience alike have always considered a requirement for the fullest degree of theatrical satisfaction” (117).
Essentially, an actor or performer in the theatre wears costume (clothes and accessories) to portray a character before an audience. The primary aim of costume and makeup design is therefore to transform an actor or a performer into the character being portrayed and to aid the audience in understanding and appreciating the performance. As tools of visual communication, costume and makeup possess tremendous power to capture the attention of the audience and in the process intensify moods and convey messages through non-verbal means. In other words, costume and makeup “heighten the aesthetic value of the play, offering basic information and enhancing the play’s interpretation”. Among other objectives, costume and makeup designs are to set the tone and style, indicate time and place, characterize individuals and groups, underline personal relationships, create symbolic outfits and when appropriate, meet the practical needs of performers as well as coordinate the entire production.
On the other hand, film may be regarded as cultural artifacts created by specific cultures which reflect and affect them. It is considered an important artform, a source of entertainment and a tool for educating or indoctrinating the citizens of a society. It is a medium of mass communication which is very powerful when effectively packaged and employed. According to Okonkwo, the film medium is unique because “it transcends and surmounts the functional barriers of language and culture difference by the combination of the creative and communicative qualities of visual and audio effects” (72). Costume, makeup and film producers are a triumvirate that needs one another for proper externalization. A film can be easily understood through costume and makeup. Thus, this research is attempting a visual interpretation of costume and makeup in Lancelot Imasuen’s Invasion 1897.