Meet the cast and creative teams behind Opera Holland Park’s 2022 Season. Over the coming weeks, we’ll introduce our singers, directors, conductors and crews at the heart of the productions this summer.
In today's interview, we meet Faye Booth. Faye is a Wigmaker, and works in TV, film and theatre, as well as creating medical wigs, and we are thrilled she is returning this year as Wigs, Hair and Makeup Supervisor. She has created some of the best and most memorable wigs at OHP, and today she tells us about how she got into wigs, some of her upcoming projects, and what makes working on wigs in Opera so exciting.
Could you introduce us to your role at OHP this summer?
I am the Wigs, Hair and Makeup Supervisor for all shows this summer at Opera Holland Park.
How did you get into Wigs?
I didn’t actually think I would end up in Wigs. When I studied, I wanted to branch into Special Effects Makeup. After I graduated, I worked in all aspects of makeup including SPFX but found more enjoyment from the wigs I was making at home. I learnt Wig Making and Styling on my course and really enjoyed learning how to knot, which is the process of attaching individual strands of hair into the base material of a wig. Once I got the hang of it, I carried it on in my spare time, making wigs and moustaches trying to get a better understanding of the hairy world. This encouraged me to explore Wigs and Wigmaking professionally. I did various aspects of work experience that eventually allowed me to start freelancing full time and I’ve been doing it ever since.
What aspects of your role do you enjoy and are you most excited about?
There’s no better feeling than seeing a creation of yours on stage. Everytime I see a show with a Wig or Facial I’ve made or see my name in a programme, I well up! To know you are adding to the magic of a show whether that’s through making or creating looks on artists backstage… it’s so exciting. This season I am excited to experience the new role of Supervisor. This is a step up for me in my career as last year I was Head of Department.
What is something surprising about your job that audience members may not know?
Sometimes we have to go on stage as part of the show. Last season, I played the starring two-minute role of Violetta’s maid in La traviata where I had to assist her with her wig, in full costume. Luckily I was behind a dark, semi-sheer curtain that took away a lot of the stage fright!
What is the atmosphere like working backstage during a production?
During tech it is full steam ahead craziness but once the shows have their rhythm and settled, it becomes more relaxed and you can really get to know your peers. What I love about OHP is there is a real sense of family between all departments and artists and we always have such a laugh. That’s one of the factors that brings me back every year.
You work on a huge variety of projects. What is something special about working in Wigs in opera, compared to theatre, TV or film?
You never work on the same show at one time. My working week when working in opera usually would consist of up to four different shows with multiple plots and looks to learn. One might be modern, the next 18th century, so it definitely keeps things fresh.
What is the most extreme or exciting wig you have worked on?
I worked some film wigs recently that were really exciting. There was one in particular that was a real “frankenwig”. What I mean by this is that I had a base wig to work from but to make it work, I needed to cut parts off the original and add multiple parts to it to create pretty much a new wig and make it fit properly for a very famous lead actor. I am very excited to see it on the big screen very soon!
Do you have a favourite OHP memory?
There are so many to choose from! I think my favourite was of me and the Wigs Team along with John Wood and Ian Massa-Harris-McFeely recreating the Spice Girls backstage during Manon Lescaut. The wigs were big and the sass was real!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received, musical or otherwise?
“It’s only a wig”. I think when we are hyper focused, deadlines are looming and tiredness sets in, one tiny mistake or setback out of your control can impact you greatly. “It’s only a wig” is a reminder to step back, breathe and take a minute. Whenever someone says that to me, it always calms me down and helps me figure out how to better the situation. It’s a saying I’ve also passed onto my students when I teach and it seems to work when it gets to shoot week!