Students at Davis & Elkins College declared Wednesday as the day to celebrate Halloween early. Scores of theater majors and those from other fields gathered around the Madden Student Center entrance to see a nationally known makeup artist transform their peers into zombies, werewolves and other scary creatures.
R.J. Haddy, one of 14 contestants in the Sy-Fy network's Season Two Face Off, completed a two-day workshop at the college sharing his skills.
His visit was organized by Instructor of Theatre Ruth Humphrey, who secured a speaker's grant and additional funding from the Student Life Office. On Tuesday, students in seven theater-related classes learned new techniques for bringing their craft to life. On Wednesday, students from throughout the campus were treated to a show of Haddy's steady hand, application of scientific methods and over-the-top creative mind.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Anthony Gaynor
Make-up artist R.J. Haddy from SyFy’s hit show Face Off was on the campus of Davis & Elkins College on Wednesday. Haddy took volunteers from the crowd and turned them into mythical creatures of all sorts. D&E Senior Sarah Shelton, of Belington, sat as Haddy applied several layers of make-up transforming her into a ‘wicked queen.’
"This is an art form many are interested in, but don't know where to go," Haddy says while looking over his traveling supply of paints, alcohol and latex. "It requires a lot of interdisciplinary studies - art, anatomy, chemistry, science."
Alyse Prince, a theater and history major, had the opportunity to learn from Haddy in her Stage Makeup class and then watched as her classmates volunteered to be his subjects.
"I watched him [on Face Off] and he was my favorite," she said. "I think it's really interesting to meet someone who's been on national television and who is so humble. He's just a regular guy."
The outcome of his artistry was anything but regular as many of the students observed.
"He did a great job; I look horrible," said Samantha Kyle, a freshman psychology major from Elkins, who requested Haddy make her up into a monster.
With one side of her face appearing bruised, she took a walk around campus. "Someone really thought I hurt myself," Kyle says. "She was freaked out for a minute."
With music from "Sleepy Hollow" playing in the background, Leigh Ann Pearsall asked Haddy to make her into a zombie. With a little lining from a fine brush, delicate sponge work and the special technique of spattering that Haddy learned on Face Off, Pearsall had her request met.
"It's a cool experience," said Pearsall, a freshman hospitality and business major from Hanover, Va. "I just think it's fun and it's not something everyone gets a chance to experience."
Although not all students who waited in line got a chance to see their faces change, they often gasped, laughed and yelled out "awesome" when Haddy added yet another dimension to their friends' new look.
"I love hearing the ewws and aahs," Haddy says. "I love the art of disguise. Creature creation has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember."
It's that creation he plans to continue. Davis & Elkins was his first college venue along his circuit of seminars, including one in Fairmont last spring where he first met Humphrey.
"I've been working on [getting him here] since last April," Humphrey says. "I wanted to bring this to all the students. He has techniques I'd love for my students to know."
Teaching isn't out of the norm for Haddy. He's spent the last eight years at his alma mater, Capital High School in Charleston, leading the school's Department of Film, Television and Multimedia - a program he resurrected, and which includes a special effects class.
"I hit a glass ceiling, went on to the next thing, Face Off happened, and the rest is history," Haddy says.
The Charleston native says he hopes his history in the theater and film industry will continue. For now, though, his calendar is booked.
"For me, Halloween is not one day; Halloween is the entire month," Haddy says.
The mission of the Davis & Elkins College Theatre Program is to provide a personalized, quality education designed to prepare and inspire students to successfully and thoughtfully engage in the creative and collaborative process of theatre.
The department offers three options for the Bachelor of Arts program - Theatre Arts, Design & Technical Theatre and Theatre Education. Davis & Elkins College has the only accredited Theatre Education degree in West Virginia. The program is geared toward training secondary school theatre teachers. The Theatre Arts program prepares and presents three to five main stage productions and three to five student-directed studio productions every year.
For more information, please visit the college website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.