Props Errata

How to Slush Cast a Prop Helmet – Tested visits Frank Ippolito to learn how to slush cast the Rocketeer helmet, which is perhaps the greatest helmet in cinematic history.

‘She Loves Me:’ David Rockwell Serves Up Old World Flavor with Modern Flair – She Loves Me snagged the Tony for Best Set Design of a Musical, preventing Hamilton from a clean sweep. Find out all the details and dressing that go into this amazing set for a show with horrible music.

New York Spectacular Statue: New York Public Library Lions – Matt Acheson tells us how he brought the NYPL lions to life (in puppet form) for The Rockettes latest show.

Make Edible Paper in 3 Easy Steps – I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but edible paper is one of those prop things that come up from time to time. Sure, you can buy it, but if you need a custom color or size, this may be the way to go.

2016 SPAM Grant Winners

The Society of Properties Artisan Managers is proud to announce the recipients of their second annual Edie Whitsett and Jen Trieloff Memorial Grants. Congratulations to Madeleine Winward and Jose Nunez. 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.

2016 Edie Whitsett Grant recipient: Madeleine Winward

Madeleine Winward
Madeleine Winward

The Edie Whitsett Grant is an annual award given to an individual wishing to further their career in theatrical properties, especially but not limited to theatrical props in children’s theatre. Edie Whitsett was the longtime property shop manager and a frequent designer at Seattle Children’s Theatre. She also created sets for Village Theatre, Seattle Opera, ACT Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet and other arts entities. Ms. Whitsett’s honors included an Artist Trust fellowship, a commission for an art installation at the Seattle Public Library’s central branch and two Seattle Times Footlight Awards.

The 2016 winner of the Edie Whitsett Grant recipient is Madeleine Winward. Madeleine recently graduated from Southern Oregon University with a BA in Theatre Arts. Passionate about theatre for many years, she began working as a Prop Master early in her college career, working on such shows as Cyrano, The White Fugue, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Upon graduation she served as a properties intern for Seattle Children’s Theatre’s Summer Season, where she was fortunate to work with S*P*A*M member Elizabeth Friedrich. She is particularly passionate about children’s theatre, both in its creative possibility and ability to enrich lives. In addition to Seattle Children’s she served as Prop Master at Village KIDSTAGE in Everett on Young Frankenstein and Seussical Jr. She is very excited to join the team at Center Stage in Baltimore this fall, where she will be working under S*P*A*M member Meghan O’Brien. She feels incredibly honored to have been chosen for the Edie Whitsett Grant.

2016 Jen Trieloff Grant recipient: Jose Nunez

Jose Nunez
Jose Nunez

The Jen Trieloff Grant is an annual award given to an individual wishing to further their career in theatrical properties. Jen Trieloff was Properties Director for American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin and Forward Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin and has served as Prop Master and Prop Designer for Madison Rep and Madison Opera and Ballet among others. He was an accomplished craftsman and scene designer whose work was seen on stages inside and outside of Wisconsin.

The 2016 Jen Trieloff Grant recipient is Jose Nunez. Jose is preparing to enter his third year as a graduate student at Ohio University, where he is pursuing his MFA in Production Technology with an emphasis in Properties Design. Jose graduated with his BA in Theatre from the University of Maryland in 2010. It was there that he first honed his propping skills under the tutelage of his mentor and SPAM member Timothy Jones, Properties Master at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. He owes his addiction to propping to Timothy Jones. Following graduation from the University of Maryland Jose freelanced in Washington DC and was the Properties Master at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD for two years, after which he entered graduate school at Ohio University. He now studies under Thomas Fiocchi. This summer he is working as the Properties Artisan at Barrington Stage Company Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Congratulations to the winners of the second annual SPAM Grants!

Props in Caroline England

Richard Brome was an English playwright of the Caroline Era, coming just on the heels of Shakespeare. In his 1640 play The Antipodes, he describes the inventory of properties and costumes of a typical company at the time. In the scene, a character named By-Play is describing how another character named Peregrine entered the company’s prop room and, thinking everything was real, set forth on “conquering” all the props.

Richard Brome
Richard Brome

“He has got into our tiring house 1 amongst us,
And ta’en a strict survey of all our properties,
Our statues, and our images of gods,
Our planets, and our constellations,
Our giants, monsters, furies, beasts, and bug-bears,
Our helmets, shields, and visors, hair, and beards,
Our paste-board march-panes, and our wooden pies.
Whether he thought ‘t was some enchanted castle,
Or temple, hung and piled with monuments
Of uncouth and various aspects,
I dive not to his thoughts. Wonder he did
Awhile, it seemed, but yet undaunted stood;
When, on a sudden, with thrice knightly force,
And thrice puissant arm, he snatcheth down
The sword and shield that I played Bevis with,
Rushed among the ‘foresaid properties,
Killed monster after monster, takes the puppets
Prisoners, knocks down the Cyclops, tumbles all
Our Jigamogs and trinkets to the wall.
Spying at last the crown and royal robes
I’ the upper-wardrobe, next to which, by chance,
The devil’s visor hung, and their flame-painted
Skin-coats, these he removed with greater fury;
And (having cut the infernal ugly faces
All into mammocks,) with a reverend hand
He takes the imperial diadem, and crowns
Himself ‘King of the Antipodes,’ and believes
He has justly gained the kingdom by his conquest.” 2

Original text of script
Original text of script

Notes:

  1. The tiring house was a backstage area for actors to change costumes and grab props before going back onto stage (http://www.bardstage.org/globe-theatre-tiring-house.htm)
  2. Wall, James W. Rise and progress of the modern drama. Knickerbocker, v.44, July, 1854, p.70. Google Books. Web. 27 June 2016. <https://books.google.com/books?id=zJtdXXOxOK0C&pg=PA70#v=onepage&q&f=false>.

New Links are Born

Whew, another big week. I had a baby this past Sunday. President Obama declared it the National Week of Making. And for my British readers, you can always come over here to make props if you don’t like how things are going in your country (though you may want to wait until after November in case things go poorly here). But for now, onto the links:

Making theater magic, one prop at a time – The Queens Chronicle looks at Zoe Morsette, a prop maker in Long Island City. Over her multi-decade career, she has made props for many Broadway musicals, as well as 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.

Theatre excels at exposing injustices, just not its own – A great article on how backstage workers often work unpaid hours, have mis-classified contracts, or are otherwise taken advantage of by theatre companies. Though this is written about theatre in the UK, the same conditions exist throughout the US. In many cases, the common practices are so ingrained, that most theatre people do not even realize many of them are illegal. Unpaid internships are one of the biggest offenders, as are paying workers with a 1099 rather than a W-2.

Ming Cho Lee: Set Designer Extraordinaire – Ming Cho Lee, one of the godfathers of American set design, is having an exhibition of his work at New York’s Museum of Chinese in America. It showcases much of his work, from Shakespeare in the Park to Broadway.

Miniature models built by Markus – Finally, check out this video on the miniature work of Markus Rothkranz. He has been making highly detailed miniatures and models for TV and film for several decades.

Links at the End of the Tunnel

This was a tough week for many of us. For some inspiring news, check out how the Orlando theatre community is helping protect the Pulse funerals from anti-gay protesters.

Cinefex has a great story on the giant puppets used in Tremors 4And if you’re thinking, “There were four Tremors films?” you’re actually wrong; there were five Tremors films and a TV series.

Make Magazine continues bringing the great shop tips with these 5 Head-Slappingly Good Shop Tips and Build Tricks. I really like the idea of using a caulking gun as a clamp.

Here’s something that has me really excited: T-shirt brushes for shellac and oil finishes. This is the last step in the life cycle of a T-shirt for a props person: Good Shirt->Work Shirt->Paint Shirt->Shellac Rag.

Great Big Story has a wonderful audio story on Stephen Kesler, a sculptor who makes life-size whales and other animals for museums.

The current issue of Stage Directions has a nice piece on creating distressed surfaces for Arizona Theatre Company’s Fences. Sure, it’s scenery, but who doesn’t like a good aged brick?

Finally, in more sad news, designer Desmond Heeley passed away last Friday. His set and costume designs have been appearing on Broadway since the 1950s.

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies