The Blend for Blood: Behind the Scenes of Hookman

By Annie Sears

Actor Luci Paczkowski before and after popping a blood pack, using menstrual pads to absorb the excess. Photo by Taylor Steinbeck.

Stage blood: one of those special effects that’s entirely disgusting, yet entirely fascinating. The Young Conservatory’s production of Lauren Yee’s Hookman incorporates a lot of stage blood, and Devon LaBelle, head of the prop shop at San Francisco State University, has concocted the perfect recipe. LaBelle first made this mixture for Hookman’s world premiere at Z-Space in 2015, and Special Effects Designer Jenny Cedillos is resurrecting it for our production. Blood may be the result of injury, but this blend is entirely harmless—even edible! So how do they do it?

  • 1/4 cup beet powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 2 quarts of water
  1. Sift dry ingredients together. 
  2. Slowly add dry powder mixture to water, stirring continuously to avoid any lumps.
  3. Refrigerate for up to one week.
  4. If you’re looking for thicker blood sprinkle in more xanthan gum until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
  5. Incorporate it onstage!
Want to “eww” over the blood in person? Hookman opens tomorrow and runs through Saturday October 27. Get your tickets today, and get in the Halloween mood by joining us for this thrilling slasher comedy.

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