Curious Stage “Props” Made of German Substitutes
Artful substitution of new materials for old ones that cannot be obtained, a trick Germany learned during the war, has now extended to the stage properties used in that country, with some queer results. Shapes made of thin paper and blown up with air are adapted to all sorts of settings, from rocks and trees to pianos, and serve their purpose so long as no forgetful actor leans against them. “Props” of this kind have at least the advantage of compactness and light weight. Luxurious-looking rugs and hangings are made by a new and economical process of printing on fabric. One attraction has a property tree, so made, of paper and wire, that it can be adjusted to any height, from a bush up. In another case, a real field of waving grain is transported to the stage by gluing straws to folding sections of flat base, the whole being fireproofed. Some interesting new cloud effects are produced, presumably by the optical projection of chemical-vapor images.
Popular Mechanics Magazine, December 1920. Vol. 34, No. 6
(from The vaudeville theatre, building, operation, management, by Edward Renton, 1918)
“Resourcefulness” should be the middle name of the individual who is competent to occupy the position of property-man in a theatre. There are other important qualifications, but this one is essential. He may be called upon to supply anything from an Egyptian mummy to a three week-old child, upon a moment’s notice. He must be a bit of a carpenter, something of an artist, a great deal of a diplomat, and he must be “on the job” from the rising of the sun to considerably after the setting thereof-in other words, this is not the place for a lazy or a shiftless man.
A property-man should have the ability to meet people pleasantly and to make a favorable impression. He should cultivate cordial relations with transfer companies, with the various merchants of the city, and with other persons from whom he is likely to need favors in the way of borrowed properties. He will be faced with the necessity of requesting loans from homes, pawn-shops, museums and other public institutions, stores and individuals. He should be able to convey the impression of responsibility- and should live up to it. To a peculiar degree, he has the reputation of the theatre in his keeping; it is absolutely essential that he call for properties loaned or rented at the time agreed upon, that he care for such articles most assiduously while they are being used and that
he return them promptly and in the same condition as when borrowed.