The following is one of several interviews conducted by students of Ron DeMarco’s properties class at Emerson College.
Christopher Haig, Prop Master, Arden Theatre Company
by Rachel Gallagher
“One of the key jobs on any film set is that of the property master, and his range of activity is perhaps the largest of all. If it ‘moves, it’s mine,’ the prop man can say, on most occasions.” People who Make Movies, by Theodore Taylor, 1967.
Being a prop master is a job where a person is in charge of getting and handling all props for a show. Properties, or “props” for short, are all the items used on a stage or set from hand held items to furniture. The job is very important because props really help tell the story and tell the audience more about what is happening in the play. There could be any number of props a prop master would have to be in charge of, from one to hundreds. These prop masters are some of the most important people on set and without them, propping would be chaotic. These people are invaluable when working in the theater. I had the opportunity to interview Chris Haig, an experienced prop master in Pennsylvania, about his work in the prop field. Continue reading →
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:
The DIY movement and small, creative businesses are becoming more and more important to the economy as a whole. Many props people either freelance as their own “business”, or run side businesses making things (such as selling things on Etsy). Save Us. Be Creative! takes a look at this growing trend.
On the other side of the coin, traditional theatre work is still worth fighting over. This past week saw the end of a particularly intense strike by IATSE stagehands at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. This article delves into the reasons behind it and why young theatre technicians spent two weeks outside in the cold and snow to protest their concerns. Coincidentally, the play the theatre was putting on was The Mountaintop, which imagines Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last day as he prepares to address a crowd of striking workers. The company could not find any workers to break the strike, so they tried to run it without any technical elements; this included having an actress sit in a folding chair and read the lighting and sound cues (“Thunder and lightning! Crack!”).