Tag Archives: 2011

Childsplay Theatre part 2

Previously, I showed photographs of our tour of the Childsplay props shop. Today, I will show photos from our tour of the rest of their facilities.

The dye room, located next to the costume shop, also had a spray booth which was shared with the props department.

Spray booth

The costume shop itself was clean and well-organized. I love shelves full of labelled boxes.

Costume shop storage

Someone was working on a bunch of tails for a giant mouse costume.

Mouse tails

I enjoyed the copious number of power cords hanging from the ceiling.

Ceiling power cords

We also toured the administrative offices of Childsplay. Old props and bits of artwork appeared everywhere. Here, Jim Luther, the prop master, shows us one of his creations.

Snap, Crackle, Pop

We saw many of Childsplay’s awards they’ve won over their 35 year history.

Jim Guy looking at awards

These puppets are delightful.


Below is a portrait of Sybil B. Harrington, namesake of the Sybil B. Harrington Campus for Imagination and Wonder, which is where all these shops and offices are located.

Sybil B. Harrington

My wife, Natalie, found her long-lost twin sitting on one of the desks.

Natalie's friend

I hope you enjoyed sharing my tour of Childsplay Theatre in Arizona. Enjoy the weekend, and stay tuned for more information from this year’s S*P*A*M conference.

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 Childsplay Theatre

2011 Tony Awards for Best Scenic Design

Last night was the 65th Annual Tony Awards. As longtime readers of this blog know, there is no Tony Award for props, whether it’s props design or prop mastering (actually, there is very little recognition of the craft and labor of backstage theatre overall, but I digress). Instead, I will look at the Tony Award winners for Scenic Design, which encompasses the world of props.

Congratulations to Scott Pask, designer of The Book of Mormon, for his Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical. Scott is the designer for both Shakespeare in the Park shows this year, which began preview performances just this past week. I couldn’t find his acceptance speech online anywhere, so in lieu of that, here is a video in which he talks about the scenic design of The Book of Mormon.

You can also read a great feature on Playbill about the design of Book of Mormon, featuring a number of photographs of the sets as well as the scenic models.

The winner for Best Scenic Design of a Play went to Rae Smith for War Horse. I highlighted some video of the horse puppets from this show back in 2009 when it was still on the West End. It’s worth watching again, because the puppets are really, really cool. The link also has some information on the puppets’ creators, Handspring Puppet Company, which incidentally, won a Special Tony Award last night as well.

Her acceptance speech is online, though I can’t seem to embed it. You can browse to it from the Tony Awards video gallery though.

USITT Tech Olympics 2011

I’ve just returned from this year’s USITT in Charlotte, NC. I have a lot going through my head at the moment, so I’ll show off some of the video I shot at the Tech Olympics. Each year, undergraduates at USITT can compete in these Olympics in a variety of events, such as knot-tying, hanging and focusing lights, and folding a drop. Many technical theatre departments have their own event. For props, the challenge is to strike a table setting to a prop table, and set up a different table setting. Randy Lutz and Tracy Armagost from the Santa Fe Opera were the judges. Contestants are ranked by the speed they complete the task in, but they are penalized for things such as missing their spike marks, making too much noise, or dragging a tablecloth on the ground. I filmed DH from Elon University doing the challenge so you would not miss out on all the fun:

USITT 2011

As you read this post, I will probably already be in North Carolina at this year’s USITT. I may be manning the S*P*A*M booth (table 80) at some point. On Friday, I’ll be reviewing portfolios. Other than that, I’ll be checking out as many workshops and panels as I can, and meeting up with as many people as I am physically able. If you will be there, drop me a line if you want to say hi.

I know Jacob Coakley will be live-blogging the conference over at Theatre Face. While USITT has its own Twitter feed, it also has a feed specifically for the conference. You can also follow the #USITT hashtag at Twitter for up to date news as well. In other words, even if you can’t make it, you can still stay informed as the conference is happening through the end of this week.

For those unfamiliar with the conference, USITT is the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. They hold a yearly conference to bring together members from around the country involved in lighting, sound, video, scenery, costumes, props and every other facet of technical theatre. It’s a chance for young designers and technicians to show off their work, for established professionals to meet and reunite with others, and for vendors to show off their latest products. The conference has panels, discussions and workshops on all sorts of subjects. It really is the only conference devoted solely to technical theatre here in the United States and Canada.

Interestingly, the first four USITT conferences from 1961-1964 were held here in New York City. In fact, 8 of the 51 conferences took place in the Big Apple, but the most recent one was way back in 1985. And unless you count Ohio or Pittsburgh, the last conference on the East Coast was the 1991 conference in Boston. Did they forget that we’re still making theatre out here?