“Where is My Prop?” (And how one simple rule can save a show.)

We do not have the luxury of a full backstage or expansive wing space. We do, however, have a wonderful stage manager and props mangers who dedicate shelf space and have a place for each prop. All the actors have to do is remember to take it with them on stage or communicate otherwise to the managers so the prop is in the right place at the right time. Simple rule, right? What on earth could go wrong? Well, plenty. But here is how to avoid the tragedy.

  1. Be responsible for your prop. Yes, the team did acquire the prop for you, but now it is up to you to make sure you have what you need when you need it. Great actors go through the script ahead of time and decide which things they need. The next step is to figure out if you have enough time to get your prop from backstage or if you will need to preset it. Communication is key here.
  2. Return your prop to the props table. The backstage team has a great deal to do after the show to preset it for the next performance. Don’t leave your prop lying around, but put it away. Otherwise, things can sometimes get lost. Again, if you cannot return it–communicate that so someone can help you.
  3. Put the props exactly  where they belong. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but it makes everyone’s job so much easier if every prop has a home and you put yours where it belongs. I understand that actors want to hurry and get out of the show at the end of the night, but so does the backstage team! Please take the extra moment to care for the order of backstage!
  4. Please don’t touch other actor’s props. (Unless you have been asked) I love that you want to help, but there is a correct order and if you don’t know exactly where to place things sometimes the fact that you “helped” can send someone else into a needless panic when their prop “disappears.” Worse, is when that prop becomes a toy that you can’t resist playing with and  just 10 minutes before curtain that essential prop is broken..
  5. Treat your props with respect and care. Please don’t mistreat your props or throw them around needlessly. Things break and then they are gone.

Some of these seem like common sense to me, but I think we just don’t consider that taking time to follow a few simple rules will potentially save a great amount of stress!

That being said, some of my favorite moments involve “prop” mishaps. Here’s a favorite:

Miracle on 34th Street. There is a scene when Fred is trying to ask Doris out but she is too busy. He gives her a necklace, and asks her out. She declines because she is “too busy.” At this point Doris was supposed to drop some cards leaving the “elves” notice of a meeting. (which is an important event in the play.) Doris realized she didn’t have the cards and told Fred she’d be right back and exited leaving our Fred (Mike Larsen) on stage….alone. Wondering what to do. He paced. Looked around. Said, “You’d think giving a girl a necklace would at least get you dinner.”

Ah! The magic of live theater!

What are your experiences with props? Any rules to follow that make it better for the play? Please like us, share, comment and follow!

Until next time!

Overshadowed by His love,

 

Reba