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Halloween lends itself to Discovery, James Clemens collaboration

Discovery students Amber Blackmon, at left, and Faith Blankenship, at right, transformed James Clemens fashion design teacher Sherri Shamwell into a zombie for "Fashion Show of the Dead." (CONTRIBUTED)
Discovery students Amber Blackmon, at left, and Faith Blankenship, at right, transformed James Clemens fashion design teacher Sherri Shamwell into a zombie for “Fashion Show of the Dead.” (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – A ‘ghoulish’ opportunity presented itself for Discovery Middle School drama students to ‘execute’ their craft for a James Clemens High School production.

Sherri Shamwell’s fashion design students presented “Fashion Show of the Dead” in conjunction with Daniel Whitt’s digital communications students’ production of “The October Project 2” film exposition on Oct. 28.

At Whitt’s suggestion, Shamwell contacted Emma Wilbanks to request help with ‘zombie’ makeup for the models. “Discovery is the only school in our system offering a theatrical makeup course,” Wilbanks said. “We readily said, ‘Yes!'”

With addition of middle-school electives this year, Wilbanks is teaching two nine-week “Theatrical Makeup” classes and one “Improvisation” class every nine weeks. About 140 students are enrolled in the nine-week rotations. Wilbanks also teaches the semester-long “Introduction to Drama.”

Discovery students used techniques to simulate torn flesh, burns, abrasions, contusions, wounds, projectiles, prosthetics and mimicked actual trauma and wounds, Wilbanks said. First, they ‘deadened’ models’ flesh with gray/green base and then applied the traumas with makeup, putty and liquid latex.

For the eerie zombie look, “students gave models the appearance of flesh-eaters with additional makeup, fresh scab and liquid blood,” Wilbanks said. Their tools included Ben Nye’s monster wheel for base colors, ash powder, three-dimensional special effects kits and Mehron liquid blood.

Makeup artists consulted with models to gage their personalities, which dictated their looks. “It’s fun when makeup matches their outfit or personality. Sherri Shamwell let her students pull together their individual outfits (with guidance). They had ownership,” Wilbanks said.

Wilbanks’ students were thrilled with the opportunity and the event’s success. She believes the collaborative experience may help Discovery students select high school electives … even career decisions.

“Every school has strengths, but it’s impossible to be great at everything,” Whitt said. “By collaborating, we filled in areas where we need growth. This collaborative spirit between content, classes and schools is one of the primary factors that makes Madison City Schools so great.”

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