Last week I attended the 25th conference for the Society of Properties Artisan Managers. It was hosted by a number of Chicago theaters this year, so I got to tour some of their spaces. First up is the facilities at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, located on the Navy Pier.
Cassandra Westover, the props supervisor led small groups of us through her shop, since it is a tight squeeze. Their location on the Navy Pier gives them zero room to expand in size.
Above is the office shared by Cass and her assistant, smack dab in the middle of hand props storage.
Above is one of the bookshelves in the office. What’s that in the lower right corner? Only the best prop book ever.
I love to see little bins of well-organized hardware, so this place definitely warmed my heart.
Despite the small size, they still managed to fit a fume extractor within their space. There’s no excuses for a lack of safety!
The prop shop does most of their carpentry and larger projects in the scene shop, but they did have a lathe in their own space.
After the shop and storage, we took a tour of their performance venues. The first was the Courtyard Theater. It was a fairly traditional thrust space styled after London’s Rose Theatre, with a bit of a proscenium space tacked on the end.
Next, we visited The Yard, which had just finished its first year of productions. It is an extremely flexible space, with so many innovations used to create the seating I can’t possibly list them all here. It was very exciting to see a theater investing so much into the future; it goes to show that live performance remains on the cutting edge of entertainment.