J. Kenneth Barnett III

Interview with J. Kenneth Barnett III

The following is one of several interviews conducted by students of Ron DeMarco’s properties class at Emerson College.

J. Kenneth Barnett III

By Rachel Hunsinger, Theater Education class of ’18 Emerson College

J. Kenneth Barnett III
J. Kenneth Barnett III

J Kenneth Barnett III is currently the Resident Scenic designer, Scenic Artist, and Properties Master for Charleston Stage. He resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his wife Ann and son Sammy. But before he made his way into the city he hopes to live out the rest of his days in, he grew up in Rockford, IL. Even at a young age he was bit by the art bug. Ever since he could remember he enjoyed painting or drawing. His artistic interests flourished as he aged, and he eventually took his first steps into theater. In the sixth grade he was in his first play about the great George Washington. He played the villain, King George, and continued on to go to a performing arts school from seventh to twelfth grade. Out of all the arts offered there though, “art and theater were [his] favorites.” Continue reading

Props: In Memoriam, 2014

We lost a lot of good people in the props world this past year. Here, in chronological order, are the props people who have completed their final note:

Though she passed at the end of 2013, news of Anne Sidaris-Reeves’ death did not break until last January. She worked in the props department on films such as The Goonies, Edward Scissorhands and Father of the Bride, and was one of the first women to be admitted into IATSE.

Joe Longo passed last January. He was the props master on Star Trek II and III, as well as The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.  He even had his own trading card in a 1993 set of Star Trek: TNG cards.

In a very tragic accident, Seamus O’Bryan was killed by a hit-and-run driver who remains unidentified. Only 32, he was the prop master at the Old Globe in San Diego, and had just left work and picked up a friend on his motorcycle when they were struck.

While not strictly a props person, H.R. Giger’s passing was felt by many people in the field. His work designing and building the creatures and sets in Alien paved the way for what sci-fi horror would look like for the next three decades.

In July, Kenneth Schwartz, the prop master at Loyola Marymount University, passed on.

Madison, WI, felt a loss when Jen Trieloff passed on. He was properties director at the American Player Theatre, but worked on shows throughout the city. At just 43 years old, this fellow SPAM member’s death came way too soon.

Finally, it’s important to remember the death of Sarah Jones. She was a camera assistant who died while working on the set of a film, and the lack of safety protocols could have easily affected a props person. The ensuing Slates for Sarah campaign has been raising awareness for the importance of safety in our industry.

So be safe in the upcoming year. If there is anyone you think I have missed who should be here, let me know.

Unboxing Some Props Links

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

Smithsonian Magazine has a great article on the history of the humble suitcase. It seems that every show that takes place in the twentieth century involves a suitcase. Even the shows that don’t require a suitcase often get them added in rehearsal (only to be cut during tech rehearsals when they realize they can’t carry their other props, and they don’t know where to put the suitcase at the end of the scene).

Speaking of histories of objects, the Toaster Museum is a whole website dedicated to the history of the toaster.

Popular Woodworking has posted a quick guide to screws. This downloadable PDF first appeared in a 2004 issue of their magazine. Now you can download it or print it out for easy reference to the different kinds of screws, different screw heads, and the best screws to use for common applications.

The Credits talks about building the sets for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Though the initial reviews of the film indicate it may be the weakest of all the Lord of the Rings films, the scale and detail of the sets—both miniature and full-scale—are breathtaking to behold.

Dug North came across these nifty kits for getting started with automata. Timberkits are solid wood pieces that you assemble to make your own working automata. Seems like a cool gift if you didn’t get what you wanted this Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas gifts, if you got my Prop Building Guidebook this year, head on over to the Amazon page and leave a review!

Friday Prop Nuggets

Friday Prop Nuggets

Here’s a short little audio story and regular story about Annett Mateo, who makes puppets for the Seattle Children’s Theatre.

I’ve never seen the 1982 film The Deadly Spawn, but John Dods, the special effects director, has a ton of behind-the-scenes photos showing the construction of the creature.

Super-fan builds is an online show where prop makers build one-of-a-kind items for obsessive fans of all things pop culture. In the latest episode, Tim Baker and his crew build a Hobbit house litter box and Eye of Sauron scratching post for a cat-loving fan of Lord of the Rings.

Tsabo Tsaboc has a set of photographs detailing the build of a dagger from the Elder Scrolls Online video game. Hat tip to Propnomicon for finding this one.

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies