Theater: The “Common Denominator” to All People

Osnat Greenbaum, Fergie Tapia, De'andre Eccles. Photo by Alayah Bennet

Osnat Greenbaum, Fergie Tapia, De’andre Eccles. Photo by Alayah Bennet

By Sushmita Jitlall and Aalayah Bennett

“You tell the blush who’s boss!” Osnat Greenbaum exclaimed. She is the Visual Elements of Theatre teacher at Lehman College who was instructing a student to not over-do the make-up on a client.

Greenbaum teaches at Lehman College full time, even during the summer for the College Now Program. She has taught the Visual Elements class “ at least 6 times” since 2004. This specific class is one of many that College Now offers and it is focused on the backstage aspect of theater. Set designs, basic makeup techniques, music, sound, lighting and costume design are the essentials that make up the criteria that has to be learned. Being comprised of high school students, this class is never the same; there is always something new happening.

Although this class handles the backstage activities of the theater, there is actual work to be done. Assignments involve learning new makeup techniques then practicing them on their assigned partners. A trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was the inspiration for sketching African masks and attempting to paint them on each other.

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African mask on Nenekade Bah’s face. Photo by Alayah bennet

Nenekade Bah, a 19 year-old student, showcased a result of this mini project. She had a red and black tribal mask on her face; stripes and shapes resembled a sketch of the cultural African mask from MOMA.

Bah said the class was “fun,” and that she would take it again if she got the chance. Even though being a makeup artist is only a hobby, she is excited that she will be able to keep her in-class makeup kit at the end of this course.

Rising senior, Fergie Tapia also said, “I like makeup” but was unsure if she’d pursue anything serious with it in the future.

The students in this class all enjoy putting different types of makeup on each other and when asked about what makes it so fun, the answers received were centered on executing the special effects on each other.

Yanitza Mercado enjoys the class because she’s never done it before and she got to learn basic makeup skills. She says the best part is, “the makeup… We’ve learned things like (how to do) swollen eyes, burns, and cuts.”

“You as an artist have to be confident in what you’re doing,” Said Ahd Elomri.

This rising High School senior added that she was really interested in makeup because of her cousin that went to beauty school. Her favorite part of the class is, “doing the special effects and going out and seeing the reaction of the people…if they’re horrified, you know you’ve done a good job.”

“One day I went home with fake blood on my arm from having the cut makeup, my step-mom saw it and she just stopped and asked, ‘What is that?’ and I was like, ‘It’s makeup,’ and she was like, ‘Ohhhh,’” shared De’Andre Eccles. She then explained that there are 3 types of blood that can be used for makeup, fresh blood, coagulated blood that isn’t runny, and thick blood.

To get a different insight on the class, Professor Greenbaum was asked a few questions regarding, her job and her feelings about Theater.“Theater brings people together to become a family,” she said. “It’s a common denominator to all people.”

When speaking about her students, she said, “I learn from everybody…they start as a class of strangers then they all become a team.”


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