Presentation on theme: "Props Properties is an unusual area in Theatrical Productions. Every show is different. Some will have almost no props, while others will have large numbers."— Presentation transcript:
Props Properties is an unusual area in Theatrical Productions. Every show is different. Some will have almost no props, while others will have large numbers of difficult to find items. There really is no clear definition of a prop that truly covers everything. Finding the props for a show can be a real challenge. There are many things needed for a show and some dont fall easily into properties. How about a pair of eye glasses? This is something that falls between props and costumes. How about a candlestick that needs to light up electrically? This is lighting and props. What about a sofa? All these things need to be considered, discussed and looked for by both areas. If both props and costumes are looking for the glasses there is a very good chance we will get the right pair of glasses for the show. Properties encompasses many gray areas. The whole concept of its not my job, you do it does not work in theatre. Everything is everybody's job.
Can you describe the prop? When the director and designer read the play they see all the props in their heads. Unfortunately most of us dont have telepathy, so we have to interrogate the director and designer at production meetings. On many shows a specific prop meeting is needed early in the production process. As prop people we need to question the creative people on the production and get specific ideas about the exact props the director and designer want. (always take notes at these meetings )
20 Questions The idea is to find out exactly what we are looking for. You can ask anything you like and the director and designers may be very specific on some props, but it is your job as prop person to be specific on all props. The following questions can be asked about almost any prop to get the discussion rolling. size, color, material period- style (when and where does the production take place?) whos (who does the prop belong to?) use- abuse (does it need to be extra strong or do we need many) practical, functional (does the telephone need to ring?)
Consumable props A consumable prop is anything that is damaged, destroyed, used up, or eaten in the course of a show. The plate that gets broken in Act I, the letter that gets torn open, the pie that is thrown in the face. These will all need to be replaced for the next show. Consumable props usually eat most of the prop budget. If we need a chocolate cake at $8 each for a production run that includes 4 tech and dress rehearsals and 24 shows, then we will spend $224 on cake alone. A prop person has to do this math at the beginning of the rehearsal process for every potentially consumable prop. Either we can afford to do this bit with the consumable prop or we cant.
Food onstage The big rule to remember is that the performers will always want more food than they will actually use. They are onstage to perform a play and a mouth full of food gets in the way. And most kinds of food create problems for actors who need to talk onstage. Much of the time we use bread and bananas (food coloring can make this look like almost anything). Alcohol- not on stage!!! First- it is illegal to drink real alcohol as part of a stage show. And second- we dont want the second act to be very different from the first act. Actors are working and cant drink on the job.
Finding- making Depending on the needs of the production, as answered by the director and designers, we may decide to make a prop or try to find it. Some props are easy to find and unless there is something special about it, we can simply get it. It may be determined that a prop may be impossible to find in the time available, and so we need to make it.
Props important to the story. There are some plays that revolve around a specific prop. Or some scenes that require a certain prop for the scene to come out the right way. These props are sometimes called weenies and special concern need to be taken with them. The prop master will often make several copies of a truly important prop and hide the extras around the stage so the actors can always get one if something goes wrong with the first one. Here are some examples of weenies I have come across on shows - Guns, weapons (how do we kill this character if we forgot the gun?) money, a letter functional appliances onstage (the telephone has to ring on que) breakaway pieces (we need to break a bottle on someones head)
Some props with specific rules- Guns- never use a real gun from a gun shop even if the firing pin is removed!!! Stage guns have two important modifications- 1) the barrel is blocked, no bullet can ever come out again. 2) the gun cant chamber a round. Blanks are shorter than bullets. The place the bullets go in the stage gun has been blocked so that only a blank can ever be loaded. Even firing a blank can be dangerous. Never fire a stage gun at someone- always cheat upstage. Dont ever play around with a stage gun!! Only use it as you are blocked in the play.
Some more props with specific rules- Functional devices onstage- some things need to work but not work fully. Dont use a real cell phone onstage- what if you get a call? The phone may need to ring but we dont need to call out. Dont use a real radio to get a real radio station- we need to be sure what we are putting onstage. Make sure there are no surprises! Breakaway- sometimes we need to break something but dont want to hurt someone or we will need this special item back in one piece for the next show. Things can be made specifically to break and be restorable. There are also breakaway glass bottles available through theatrical suppliers for bar fights and the like. Make sure you order twice what you need as this stuff breaks really easily.
Even more props with specific rules- Swords and other weapons- any sword used for fighting on stage needs to be a stage combat sword. Which means it is a fencing blade with a fancy pommel and guard. Never use anything pointy or sharp in any way on stage. Actors can get carried away. Money- dont use real money onstage. (Think about it.) Use a copy machine and some funny money and create sheets of fake bills. Do not copy real US dollars that is a Federal Crime! Stain the pages with some watery greenish paint and cut out the money. Always make 4 times what you think you need, it has a way of disappearing.
General categories of props Not everything will fit easily into one of these categories but they can be helpful is organizing how you approach getting and running all the props for a show. Personal props- wallet, glasses, pen, money,... hand props- book, basket, spear, bag of groceries,... set props- furniture, cart or wagon, casket,... set dressing- This needs some explanation.
Set dressing is anything that is used to dress the set to help set the scene. It is usually not used by the actors, or referred to in the script, but it is essential. If the scene is set in a hotel room we need the plastic curtains on the window, the cheesy art on the walls, and the ugly bed spread; to let the audience believe that this is really that kind of room. Set dressing is a whole department on many movies. There may only be a 2 minute scene in someones home but no one lives in a house with nothing on the walls and no objects smaller than a chair. Look around your own bedroom and imagine recreating that on a sound stage.
Now here are the rules When you are working on a show, as actor or prop person, or anything- The only people that touch a prop are the actor blocked to use it and the prop crew! As an actor it is your responsibility to always check your props at top of show! You will be stuck onstage without it if someone messes up.