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Monique Walker

Interview with Monique Walker

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

Interview with Monique Walker: Prop Master of Village Theatre

by Coco Nakase

Monique Walker
Monique Walker

Monique Walker, the current props master for the Village Theatre in Washington, answered the phone one February afternoon with encouraging enthusiasm, eager to speak about her rich history of work and the art of props. Monique began in theatre as a high school student, primarily acting in plays and working on the sets in her small town Iowan high school. She had always had an interest in drawing and painting, so when she went to college at University of Northern Iowa, she first majored in Interior Design. “It was in the Home Ec department. And I was like, really? This is awful! It was just decoration, it had nothing to do with architecture or anything like that.” Continue reading

Summer Jobs Already?

For those of you in school for theatre, it is not too early to start thinking about summer employment. Even though snow is still on the ground and it gets dark at 4 pm, this is the time of year that many summer festivals, theatres and operas begin recruiting for their production positions and internships. To my international readers, I am sorry this post only deals with US jobs and internships.

Whether looking for summer work or for immediate work, Backstage Jobs should be one of the sites you check daily. By now, most of the major and legitimate theatres have learned to post any and all technical and production-related jobs to this site. It is completely free to view every job posting. The site admin also does a bang-up job of keeping spam and unrelated postings from appearing.

Speaking of spam, the Society of Properties Artisan Managers maintains a list of which of their member theatres offer props internships. This is a comprehensive list of all internships, not just summer ones, so be sure to check the commitment dates for the theatres you are interested in.

Artsearch is another big mainstay of technical theatre job postings. Though you should avoid job posting sites which require you to pay to view listings, this is the one exception. If you are currently in school, your school will probably have login information you can use (this is often true if you are an alumni as well).

In addition to job listings online, you may wish to think about applying and interviewing for jobs during one of the two big conferences. Though these are held in March, now is the time that you should be registering for the conferences, booking your hotel and making your travel arrangements. The two major conferences for theatre technicians are USITT and SETC.

This year, USITT is held March 20-23 in Milwaukee. The conference is meant for technicians and designers for all aspects of live performance. Part of the conference includes a massive stage expo, where companies and employers have booths to show off what they do. This is where you can meet and greet with the people in charge of these companies; many of them use USITT to do some of their recruiting for summer internships and apprenticeships.

The SETC conference will be held March 6-10 in Louisville, KY. SETC is meant for all aspects of theatre, including acting and directing, so it is not focused on just the production side. While the exposition hall is much smaller than USITT’s, it does have a job fair you can sign up for. Companies have small tables where they list the job openings they have, and you sign up for times to interview. You then spend the rest of your time meeting with employers all over the convention center to interview for these jobs. You can interview for as many or as few jobs as you have time for. I actually got hired at the Santa Fe Opera for the first time at the SETC job fair.

These websites and conferences have jobs at all skill and pay levels; even the internships can vary widely in how much you are paid. While it may seem your acting friends are constantly taking low-to-no paid internships, as a technical theatre person, you should always be paid for your work. Plenty of paid opportunities exist at all skill levels if you look for them.

Upholstered car

Childsplay Theatre

I am back from the 18th (or 19th?) official S*P*A*M conference. This year’s host was Jim Luther, the Prop Director at Childsplay Theatre in Arizona. On the Saturday of the conference, he led us on a tour of his props shop and their facilities.

Welcome to the props shop

The front room of the shop is the “clean” room, which also had a number of props out for display. Jim showed us some pieces as we looked around. Continue reading

Leaving Arizona

I am flying out of Arizona today after a fun and learning adventure at this year’s S*P*A*M conference. I have a lot of notes to go through and photographs to share from this years conference of propmasters, but I have to get to my computer first. Until then, enjoy this piece from PBS NewsHour on the Maker Movement. It’s an hour-long video exploring the DIY and maker movement, including things like Maker Faires and training in public schools.

 

Prop Masters Conference Roundup

This past weekend, I visited the lovely city of San Francisco for the first time. It was the 2010 S*P*A*M conference. For those of you not in the know, the Society of Properties Artisan Managers represents full-time properties directors (and their assistants, like me) in theatre, opera, and education. The currently 98 members work in nearly every part of the country and many of the major cities, as well as one in Canada.

As part of the conference, we toured the facilities at the San Francisco Opera and at Berkeley Rep. Each if those may become a blog post in the upcoming days. We also toured Pixar Studios, but that was all secret and no cameras were allowed.

We also had a hazardous communications training seminar with Monona Rossol. It has reminded me that I’ve posted very little information and links about safety on this site.

Finally, S*P*A*M is working on some exciting new things, which I will keep you all apprised of as they happen. I’d write more, but I’m at the airport waiting for my overnight flight home to NYC, and I have to go straight back to work in the morning. This Hart won’t be left in San Francisco!