I’m not the only props person who is enthralled with Mythbusters. Working there would be a dream come true. There is a video on YouTube of Jamie giving a tour of their shop. It’s an amazing space, the kind every props artisan wishes they had. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have an entire warehouse to fill with tools, materials, found objects, and miscellaneous parts. Still, it’s a great video to watch, showing how they organize all the various bits they’ve accumulated over the years, and the challenges of keeping order in such a large shop.
Jay runs a podcast on props. You can listen to “Prop Dept” on iTunes. I’ve never really dealt with podcasts before, so I don’t know how you would get it if you don’t have iTunes installed. I have it, so I was able to download the latest five episodes. He presents tips and tricks such as making a barb-wire crown that oozes blood, turning a switchblade comb into a switchblade knife, and making slime.
Mark Walston, the props master at Actors Theatre of Louisville, has a comprehensive and continually updated Flickr stream of photos from the props and scene shop at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.
I had the pleasure of working with Mark and the others there for a few months. It’s a great shop, and an amazing storage space. The giant train seat in the center of the photograph above is one of the pieces I built.
I have some more pictures after the break:
Today, I’m presenting several magazine articles I’ve found which are available online. These give a nice, in-depth look at working props shops around the world.
From the Winter 2005 edition of Ohio Today. This article takes a look at the props shop of Ohio University, where I attended graduate school for a period.
A look at Hunter Spence, who teaches props at Yale University.
A look at the backstage crew of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, with a nice section on Paul James Martin, the props master.
An in-depth look at MDM Props, a London-based props shop which has branched out into fabrication for art installations.
Has your prop shop been featured in a magazine or website? Do you post photographs of your prop shop online? Let me know, I’d love to feature them here.
I’ve spent three summers at the Santa Fe Opera as a props carpenter. It’s a great place to build props and expand your skills, and the shows they produce are top-notch. I would definitely encourage any beginning props people to apply to their apprentice program.
Below are some links to news articles that tell some more about the props shop at the Santa Fe Opera.
A slideshow produced by the Santa Fe New Mexican. It looks behind the scenes of the prop shop during the 2007 season, when I worked there as a props carpenter. I’m not in any of the photos, but you can see a cart I built for La Boheme.
This article focuses on Randy Lutz, the head of props there, and the problems he faces with doing outdoor theatre.