Some of you already saw this yesterday, but I began a quick little survey on how your theatre uses fire and pyrotechnics. Please take a moment to fill it out; it will only take 3 to 5 minutes. Even if your theatre bans all types of fire down to the smallest candle, that information will still be useful.
Take a listen to this podcast with Ellen Freund, a prop master in film and television for 35 years. Her credits include Mad Men, Masters of the Universe, Night at the Museum, Twilight (no, not that Twilight), Twilight Saga: New Moon (yes, that Twilight), and so many more.
Karestin Harrison and Tammy Honesty are working on a recipe book of fake food due out in early 2018. Rosco has a few sample recipes up on their blog. It’s a much needed and much anticipated book for many prop builders, and one more step for Routledge in creating the ultimate prop library.
Finally, in angrier news, the UC San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance and La Jolla Playhouse recently laid off 21 production employees, and then “invited” them to reapply for their jobs at a severe pay cut. These employees include most of the department heads of the various production departments, including the props master. Read this article on Broadway World for the specifics of how and why this happened, then head on over to the UCSD Theatre & Dance – Help Save Our Jobs! Facebook Group to see what you can do to help and to continue following the story.
Hopefully none of you need to shop for your shows today, which kicks off the official “worst time to do prop shopping” season. If you are safe in your shop or in tech, here are a few interesting prop-related sites to read and visit:
Check out these hotel menus from the 1850s and 1860s. The Hilton College of the University of Houston’s Hospitality Industry Archives has dozens of scans of menus from throughout the Eastern seaboard and Midwest of the US. It’s a great resource if you need to make period-correct food for fancy gentleman.
It’s that time of year again for the New York City holiday window displays. These windows give jobs to dozens of props people for several months throughout the year, and the results are always spectacular. Gothamist has a great rundown of all the major displays, including photographs and videos showing them in action.
Make Magazine delivers some useful tips for props people again, this time giving us 10 great painting tips. These aren’t tips for creating the perfect faux marble, but rather helpful hints on masking and keeping your paintbrushes and cans neat and clean.
With the holiday season upon us, I thought it would be fun to once again see how Macy’s makes their world-famous window displays. CNN Money goes inside the workshop this year to see how a team of artists and craftspeople make these complicated and beautiful environments.
Back when I lived in New York City, I spent a couple seasons working at Spaeth Designs, building props for the holiday window displays at stores like Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. They’ve produced a few videos this year showing some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into these mini-productions. These windows are quite intense, with designers and department heads beginning work in February, and dozens of skilled craftspeople starting as early as July to get these ready by Thanksgiving.
First up is Saks Fifth Avenue, which went with a “Yeti” theme:
Next up is Lord and Taylor, who do variations on a Victorian Christmas every year:
It is Thanksgiving tomorrow for those of us in the US. It is a time to reflect on the things we are thankful for, and I thought I would make a list of ten things that prop masters are thankful for (plus one bonus thing). What would you add to the list?
A props list that fits on one page.
Being able to return an item with an open package.
Finding the perfect prop on eBay… and it has a “Buy it Now” option.
Interns who understand the difference between craft and fabric scissors.
When the designer says “I have the perfect one at home, I’ll just bring it in.”
A publicity photographer who actually includes some of the props in the photos.
Finding out the Meet and Greet for the next show has real food provided rather than just light snacks.
When the designer chooses the fabric to reupholster the couch and it’s the cheapest option you presented.
A cast with no food allergies.
When that challenging prop you don’t even want to think about gets cut before you even thought about it.
And of course, the thing we can all be thankful for this holiday season: