In case you missed it, the Shop@AVR Blog has these seven amazing images of stage technicians throughout history. They have photos from 1899-1935, and one illustration from the 18th century. One photo shows clearers moving the props; clearers were the precursors to prop running crew.
I’ve previously mentioned the massive auction of Rick Baker’s stuff at the end of this month. Check out this article on how Tom Spina Designs is preparing and preserving his work in anticipation of the sale. Some of these props and animatronics are decades old and were not built to last, but Tom and his crew have a ton of experience restoring and protecting items like this.
I missed this article from last autumn, but WNPR has a great profile on Ming Cho Lee. I think it’s safe to say that if you work in American theatre, you will eventually work with a designer who was trained by Ming. Not only has he shaped set design, but he has had a huge part in shaping design education.
Finally, here is a video from the 90s about the original animatronic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The technology that went into those suits were incredible. Unlike CGI, the suits can actually be performed in live; I wonder if any theatre company has ever used anything as sophisticated as these? That would be a cool show.
How do you cut open a deer carcass and pull out a bleeding heart every night on stage? Wall Street Journal has a short but interesting article on how Eric Stewart, the head of props for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, does just that. Remember to keep your fake hearts wrapped in wax paper in between performances.
I used to watch the show Haven, but was unaware it was still running. But “Revisiting Haven” has a new interview with props master Jason Shurko up. If you can get the plug-in to work, it’s a fascinating look at what it takes to get all the weird and wonderful props featured on the show.
Gizmodo has a great article and video taking us inside the fiery workshop of a 21st century swordmaker. He’s not making stage combat weapons, but it is still really cool seeing an intricate weapon take shape from just a few lumps of nondescript steel.
Tested takes their video camera into the jAdis prop rental shop. This Santa Monica business specializes in weird science and medical props and forgotten technology. If you’re making a movie that needs a Hemodimagnometer, this is where you go. Be sure to check out their website as well for some great pictures and more news stories about their history.
Famed monster maker Rick Baker is putting his stuff for auction later in May. Check out the catalog at Prop Store’s website for the full range of all the items they have. You may not be interested in buying and collecting these items, but these auction catalogs always have great photographs and descriptions of the items, which serve almost like a history of how props and animatronics were constructed. This one has molds, mechanisms, masks and more from shows like An American Werewolf in London, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Harry and the Hendersons, and Gremlins 2.