Many eons ago, I was Cordelia in a production of King Lear. I was so thrilled! It was my first real role in a Shakespearian show, and I got to die. How much more can you ask for? Well, apparently I could ask for a personal hair and makeup person for every performance. An experience I have never had since, and after the incident, one I don’t care to repeat.
I don’t know why they decided that I needed my own makeup person. Maybe my face just needed that much help? And most of my hair was covered by a veil (which made me look shockingly like the Virgin Mary) until my death scene. So the hair part of hair and makeup consisted of a hidden bun and two little curls on each side of my face.
About the third time this woman came in to do my hair, she was chatting about how happy she was to get to work with me and how nice my eyebrows were. I thought it was a weird compliment, but whatever. And she chatted and chatted. And I thought my dressing room was beginning to smell strange. I told her, but she thought one of the mirror light bulbs had gotten some dust on it and was burning it off. I wasn’t super worried about it, so we moved on to her doing my hair.
She started curling the hair right by my forehead, and the smell got so much worse, and then my hair started to smoke. I screamed, she screamed, we both screamed together. She pulled the curling iron away from my hair, and my hair was still smoking! I looked at my hair in horror. Something shiny had been melted into my hair! She had left her damned curling iron leaning into her plastic caboodle! The plastic had melted and was now in my hair! Why? How could she do such a thing to me!
I cried. The stage manager had to come calm me down. But in the end there was nothing to be done. Even Crisco won’t get melted plastic out of your hair. The stage manger got scissors and cut off the front chunk of my hair. The hair lady had been too hysterical to do it herself.
Cordelia had a bald patch up front for the rest of the run, and I have never again trusted someone with a curling iron near my head.