Try Your Luck With These Prop Stories

Interview: Rob Kyker – Lilja’s Library, a site dedicated to Stephen King, sits down for an interview with Rob Kyker, the prop master on Mr. Mercedes. Rob was also prop master on shows like Lost and Castle.

Making Your Own Foam Cutting Table – Make Magazine brings us this how-to video explaining how to build a hot wire cutting table for foam. Don’t forget the ventilation!

Kansas City Rep Theatre, Prop & Costume Auction – The Kansas City Rep is losing their storage space and moving to a smaller warehouse, so a large portion of their collection is being sold off. This auction includes items that have been bought throughout their 30 year history, so it is a rare opportunity to acquire many hard-to-find items.

Pocket Screws for Chairmaking? (Yes) – Chris Schwartz shows us how he uses pocket screws as a way to clamp pieces that are otherwise difficult to attach a clamp to. I’ll admit to having done this in the past; pocket screws create a very strong connection.

The making of the Central Perk couch on Friends – This video shows the Warner Brothers Upholstery Department building the iconic orange couch from Friends. I think it is a recreation of the original couch, but I still find it fascinating that they build the entire couch from scratch.

Props are Back on the Menu

Fake ‘n Bake: Ay-may! – It has been nearly four years since the Fake n’ Bake blog was regularly updated. That is about to change as the talented Aimee Plant takes over the site! Fake ‘n Bake has long been one of the go-to destinations for making fake food, and I am looking forward to learning some all new tips and tricks.

20 Secrets Behind the Scenic Designs for Wicked, Sweeney Todd, and More – Playbill looks at the design work of Eugene Lee and presents some of his early drawings, models, and renderings for his iconic sets. I count maybe a dozen secrets, so I don’t know where the other eight are. Still, it’s a great glimpse into the evolution of his work.

Polone: The Unglamorous, Punishing Hours of Working on a Hollywood Set – I’ve never worked on a film set, but a lot of my readers have. Fourteen to sixteen hour days are the norm, and it destroys the body, ruins relationships, and has even led to death. It seems insane to have such brutal working conditions in an industry with so much money.

When a stagehand gets hurt, who pays? – Speaking of bad working conditions, we’ve probably all worked at a company that wrongly paid us with a 1099 instead of a W-2. Besides the tax issues that arise, this also means the company is not covering you under their worker’s compensation insurance, so when you get hurt moving a large statue of Virgin Mary during a scene change, you’re on the hook for your medical bills. This article highlights some of the theatre workers fighting to change all that.

Below the Surface – The River Amstel in Amsterdam was recently pumped dry, and archaeologists were able to dig up over 700,000 objects that spanned several centuries worth of history. They have photographed over 11,000 of these artifacts and present them at this website. The objects range from contemporary gambling tokens to prehistoric pottery fragments.

Should I throw away this prop?

It is the prop master’s greatest challenge: whether to throw away a prop or not. When we clean and reorganize our stock, we find a number of “iffy” items and questionable furniture pieces. After we close a show, we have a whole truckload filled with items we need to find storage space for, even when we suspect we will never use them again.

Thankfully, Lisa Bledsoe put together this handy flowchart to determine which props to keep and which to toss. Lisa and I worked together at the Triad Stage props shop a few years back, and she did a phenomenal job reorganizing and thinning our stock.

Should I throw away this prop?

Burning Through the Weekend

Perfecting the ‘Burn’: Props Master Jay Duckworth on Styling the Iconic ‘Hamilton’ Song – Is Jay ever not in the news? DC Metro sits down with the prop master of the off-Broadway run of Hamilton to discuss how he perfected the burning of the letters during the song “Burn.”

Shepherding the Show: A Day in the Life of Hamilton’s Stage Manager – Continuing with Hamilton, Playbill shares these great photos of Amber White at work as the production stage manager of the Broadway version of this iconic musical.

When the Actors Are Students, and They’re Armed – In this climate of daily school shootings, how do high school theater departments deal with plays and musicals that feature guns? The New York Times is on it. They showcase a number of schools who take different approaches; some use abstract props to represent the guns, while others use as realistic a prop as possible. As a prop master, you need to be in on the conversation early whenever your production will include firearms.

Meet the Puppeteer: Christina Stone in Manufacturing Mischief – Check out this interview with puppeteer Christina Stone as she talks about the various characters she created and performed in the recently-closed Manufacturing Mischief.

Adding Smoke F/X to Toys Using E-Cigarettes – Make Magazine rounds up some tutorials on using e-cigarettes to add smoke effects to toys (or props). Remember, if you are working on an Equity show, there are guidelines on how much smoke you can use, and the levels need to be tested. There are a few brands you can use without the need for testing, but they cannot be hacked or modified.

2018 SPAM Grant Winners

The Society of Properties Artisan Managers is proud to announce the recipients of their fourth annual Edie Whitsett and Jen Trieloff Memorial Grants.

Congratulations to Danielle Wermedal, winner of the Jenn Trieloff Grant, and Kayla Carroll, winner of the Edie Whitsett Grant.

These grants are awarded to individuals wanting financial assistance with transportation, housing or other necessities during an internship in theatrical properties. You can find out more about these grants and other resources at the S*P*A*M website. You can also “like” their Facebook page to stay up to date with news and announcements.

2018 Edie Whitsett Grant recipient: Kayla Carroll

Kayla Carroll
Kayla Carroll

Kayla Carroll is a graduate of the University of Indianapolis where she received her Bachelor of Science in Theatrical Production and Design. During her time at the University she worked as Properties Designer for a total of ten productions including Eurydice, Urinetown, Out of Order, and Frankenstein. Her designs for King Lear and Move Over Mrs. Markham! each received a Certificate of Merit from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Before graduating she was able to complete an internship in the properties department of the Indiana Repertory Theatre where she worked with S*P*A*M member Geoffrey Ehrendreich. This July she will be joining the Professional Training Company at the Actors Theatre of Louisville where she will be an apprentice under S*P*A*M member Mark Walston. You can find her resume and examples of her work at https://kladcarroll.wixsite.com/kladdesigns.

2018 Jen Trieloff Grant recipient: Danielle Wermedal

Danielle Wermedal
Danielle Wermedal

Dani Wermedal is a proud alumna of State University Theatre, Prairie Repertory Theatre, and a graduate of South Dakota State University with a BS in Theatre. While with SUT and PRT she prop mastered shows such as Monty Python’s Spamalot, Shrek the Musical, and A Year with Frog and Toad. She is from Volga, SD, and is currently preparing to move cross country in August to be Hartford Stage’s next Properties Apprentice for the 2018-2019 season under the guidance of S*P*A*M member Erin Keller. She is honored to be the recipient of the 2018 S*P*A*M Jen Trieloff Memorial Grant and can’t wait to further her experience and education in the world of props. You can find examples of her work and resume at http://wermedalprops.weebly.com.

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies