It was a horrific scene. The injured and dying lay everywhere, and their screams rang out as rescuers rushed to the site of a terrible helicopter accident at Pinckneyville Correctional Center. Well, that was the idea, anyway.
Rend Lake College’s theatre students recently helped PCC’s rescue personnel practice their emergency skills by playing the victims of a freak helicopter accident outside the prison walls.
When Theatre Director Tracey Webb was first contacted about providing some assistance, she was unsure how to come up with an acting crew and the necessary makeup effects on such short notice. However, as she sat in her office contemplating the dilemma, an art student, Alex Ryterski (Pinckneyville), happened to drop by to show off some photos of his special effects makeup skills. It seems Ryterski has a burning desire to do special effects makeup in the movie industry.
The day before the drill, Webb and Ryterski convinced nine students from Webb’s Theatre Appreciation and Acting classes to volunteer their time the following afternoon to drive all the way to Pinckneyville, spend two hours having makeup and special effects applied to them and lie down on wet asphalt in the parking lot. Three other students joined the fray to help Ryterski apply the makeup.
Alex had come up with the fake blood – a concoction of corn syrup, chocolate syrup and powdered Kool-aid. The group also obtained spirit gum, liquid latex, torn pieces of tissue paper, masking tape, duct tape, PVC pipe, Styrofoam, cardboard and stage makeup and set to work. Using stipple sponges, makeup brushes and cotton swabs, Webb, Ryterski and the makeup crew dabbed stage makeup and fake blood onto the “victims” to create realistic gashes, compound fractures, burns, gouges and other serious injuries.
“All the students turned out to be amazingly natural actors,” Webb said, but it was no easy task for them. They were outside, where a recent rainstorm had swept over the prison complex. The actors had to lay down in mud puddles on the chilled pavement, often in almost agonizing positions, to appear realistically wounded. Such was the case for RLC acting student Hayley Joseph (Christopher), who portrayed a bilateral compound fracture victim. She had to lie down in a jogger’s stretch with one knee bent forward so that when she was lying down on her back, her foot was close to her head.
“All in all it was an exciting opportunity for some of my students to see what it’s like to be made up in an elaborate fashion and then perform in adverse conditions,” Webb said. “It was also gratifying to know my students are made out of tough stuff and don’t mind getting a little dirty in order to have a chance to put on a show.”
For more information, contact Webb at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1295, or call toll-free (in-district only) at 1-800-369-5321, Ext. 1295.