Wade Wilson as John McClane in Theatre Unleashed’s A Very DIE HARD Christmas, wearing our no-stain stage blood recipe
TL;DR – “No one cares about your story, Greg. Just give me the damn recipe.”
Earlier today on Twitter, I announced that I will once again be helming our annual cult holiday hit A Very DIE HARD Christmas this year as part of TU’s Naughty & Nice Rep (and, in the same tweet thread, managed to renegotiate and confirm our performance license with the show’s lead writer. That’s what I call multitasking). Jenn will direct the “Nice” half, our radio play adaptation of Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. So, that means from the end of September, we won’t see much of each other until Christmas. I’m sure you’re going to want to know what this has to do with stage blood. Hold on a minute and we’ll get there.
Despite the pining for my better half that this job will cause, I’m really excited to climb back into the director’s chair for A Very DIE HARD Christmas. It’s a glorious mess of a show. Literally. We go through gallons of stage blood during the run.
“But wait,” you ask. “If you go through so much stage blood, how can you keep John’s undershirts so clean for the start of each show?”
Well, we buy a bunch of those. That’s how we do that.
(Speaking of, I should post pictures of the blood-crusted undershirts we found during the costume pull for last year’s show. The fake blood had hardened the fabric to the point where we could break the shirt like a cracker. Yeah. Gross. So, anyway…)
But everyone else in the cast only has one costume apiece, and they *all* get bloody at one point or another.
So, how do we keep the cleaning budget from ballooning out of control? My super-sexy-washable-stage-blood recipe (which I found elsewhere on the internet and modified).
When we first did this show in 2015, I spent about a month (and a couple hundred dollars) experimenting with different recipes I found.
First off, don’t use any that are soap-based. Just… don’t. They’re incredibly messy and not nearly as effective as you think they would be. We were using a problematic soap-based concoction all the way up until the final dress rehearsal and I was at my wits’ end when one last google search turned up a recipe involving dark Karo corn syrup and poster paint.
We experimented with this new recipe, and we were happier with the results. However, we weren’t quite getting the consistent look we wanted. So, we switched it up a bit, swapping in clear Karo for the dark syrup, introduced cocoa powder to get the color right, and bazinga! Fake blood.
Now, for this to live up to it’s “no-stain” name, the trick is that you need to wash the blood out of fabric before it dries, especially white or light-colored fabric. If it dries (and it will within ten to twenty minutes after application), then all bets are off.
Easy as that. Have a bloody good time!