The San Francisco Opera goes behind the scenes into the prop shop with prop master Lori Harrison in this video. Find out how they make fake weapons and giant cotton candy, the hallmarks of any good opera.
With the holiday season upon us, I thought it would be fun to once again see how Macy’s makes their world-famous window displays. CNN Money goes inside the workshop this year to see how a team of artists and craftspeople make these complicated and beautiful environments.
For the holiday show at Triad Stage in Greensboro, we remounted the production of Snow Queen we made last year. I had built a number of puppets for the show which only requited minor adjustments and maintenance, but I wanted to completely rebuilt the crow puppet. He went through so many iterations and modifications last year as we tried to discover what worked best, so the end result was a hodge-podge of cobbled-together parts and mechanisms. He was difficult to maintain and he broke frequently. When I knew we were remounting this production, I budgeted in a complete rebuild of the crow.This time around, I was able to order more appropriate and precise materials, rather than assembling it with whatever I could find at the Home Depot.
I made a video showing the inner mechanisms of the puppet and how it is operated:
You can compare that to the puppet I made last year. The rod is now two pieces of aluminum which sleeve together, rather than two pieces of PVC pipe which bend and wobble. I abstained from using any string this year, which always stretched and lost tension, or broke completely. Most importantly, I planned the construction out so the parts were completely modular, and everything could be taken apart with bolts, screws or Velcro. The crow last year was a bit of a nightmare when it came to maintenance, because a lot of the pieces were permanently attached to each other, so it practically required laparoscopic surgery to fix anything that broke.
I recently began checking out the YouTube channel of the British Pathé, one of the largest historical video archives on the planet. Pathé news was filming nearly everything between 1910 and 1970 in the UK and around the world. They have a few recordings of theatre life in decades past. I really enjoyed this 1933 “Peep Behind the Scenes”:
Or how about this 1926 look backstage at the London Coliseum (there is no sound in this one)?
How’d you like to do scene changes while wearing a coat with tails?
I just stumbled upon this video from a few years back that goes behind the scenes at the Walnut Street Theatre’s props and scenery shop. I was a stagehand apprentice there back in 2001, and spent a bit of time learning how to build things in that shop, an old military magazine in northeast Philadelphia. So check them out as they build props and scenery for The King and I: