So this is from way back in January, but I somehow missed it. The “in 1 Podcast” talked with Kathy Fabian about her life as a Broadway props master. It’s two and a half hours of fascinating conversation about what it takes to prop a show in New York City and getting a production up and running on the Great White Way.
The Prop Solve makes this cool Dr. Strangelove Survival Pack which doubles as a camera carrying case. I don’t run across too many soft goods props projects, so it’s wonderful to see so many photos of her process from start to finish.
Maine State Music Theatre posted this quick little time lapse video showing their prop department live casting the face of an actor for their upcoming production of Evita. It looks like they’re using one of those new body-safe silicone rubbers, which I haven’t really seen in action before.
Frank Ippolito shares his process of building historical fantasy costume armor for the upcoming E3 convention. It sounds like a costume project, but it involves a lot of crafts and materials we use in props.
Finally, Cinefex takes a peek into the model-making shop behind Team America: World Police. Don’t worry, there aren’t any pictures of rude puppets here; just great photos of miniature buildings and vehicles.
Spend twenty minutes to watch this fantastic mini-documentary on the life of a prop master. The American Theatre Wing follows Buist Bickley, Kathy Fabian and Faye Armon-Troncoso as they navigate New York City to prop their shows.
Gabrielle Donathan has a very useful article called “The Cost of Custom Cosplay: Where Does the Money Go?” In it, she takes three complete costumes she has constructed, and breaks down every component and task in the process to show their individual costs. The total is basically what she charges her clients. If you think custom work is expensive, this shows why. And if you do your own work, this is a great primer on how to break down a project and account for all the expenses before you come up with a price quote.
Make Magazine has pictures and videos showing the construction of a wearable Rancor mascot suit by Frank Ippolito for Comic Con 2015. It’s mostly sheets of foam rubber with a killer paint job.
Finally, Bill Tull from Conan O’Brien participates in the Prop Master Challenge. This is how I imagine a lot of prop masters do their job (kidding).
Kathy Fabian has been a fixture in the Broadway props world for a few years now. In the past few years, she’s propped shows such as South Pacific, Spring Awakening, and You’re Welcome America. She is also the resident props master at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor.
Last year, Tom Isler wrote a great article about her called Why Kathy Fabian always gets her props. It’s a great look at the work of a busy props person, neatly summed up in the beginning:
if it exists in this world, she’ll track it down. If it doesn’t, she’ll build it from scratch.
You need to read the whole article for all the great stories and insights into her work. However, there was one bit toward the beginning of the article that I wanted to point out:
Propping (theater jargon, from the verb “to prop,” meaning to design and/or obtain props for a production) is an underappreciated art, even within the industry. Set, sound, costume and lighting designers all get recognition, but there’s no Tony Award for propping. The Drama Desk Awards even handed out an award this year for Outstanding Projection and Video Design. Nothing for props.
It’s true; props are rarely, if ever recognized. What do you think about this?