Get Up Close With the Props of Dear Evan Hansen – Take a look backstage at the hit Broadway show to see how the props are stored. This series of photos is a great look at all the minute detail that goes into preparing seemingly ordinary props. Even the most mundane details have some story behind it, or some kind of trick rigged into it to make the show run smoothly and consistently.
Woman’s Day Magazine’s Star Wars Playset Designs (1978, 1980) – In two separate issues in 1978 and 1980, Woman’s Day Magazine published plans and instructions to construct Star Wars playsets for the popular action figures. These plans had you build them fully from scratch, using sheets of plywood, plastic, laminates, and other raw materials. This article includes links to the original plans as well, so grab them while you can!
The Secret Tools Magicians Use to Fool You – In another photo series, Louis De Belle has photographed devices used by magicians for his upcoming book, and shares a few of them with us here. He doesn’t actually give away how any of the tricks work, but it is a fun exercise to guess what each magical prop accomplishes.
National Theatre explores “exquisite miniature world” of stage set models – The National Theatre in London has an exhibition of some of the set design models for shows that have been produced there since the 1970s. The exhibition runs until March 2019, and was curated by Eleanor Margolies, author of Props (Readings in Theatre Practice).
The Master of Paper Props – Great Big Story visits Ross MacDonald’s shop to see how he makes paper props for movies and television shows. This video delves into his process and into the power of paper props in general. If you haven’t seen Ross’ work before, this blog has covered him many times over the past nine years.
Want my job? with Khadija Raza, set and costume designer – Khadija talks with Voice about her job as a theatre designer in anticipation of TheatreCraft, the UK’s largest theatrical careers event for 16-30 year-olds.
Shrinking the world: why we can’t resist model villages – Simon Garfield ponders why we are drawn to miniature urban landscapes and why model builders feel compelled to create them. Along the way, he treats us to many photographs of some of the world’s finest examples of miniatures and model towns.
Original Big Bird, Caroll Spinney, Leaves ‘Sesame Street’ After Nearly 50 Years – In case you missed the news a few weeks ago, Caroll Spinney is retiring from Sesame Street after its 50th Anniversary special. Spinney has played both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the show’s inception, making him one of the last original cast members to leave the show. The New York Times has this fantastic retrospective of his career.
Mortal Artists – The Craftsmen | Episode 3 – The upcoming Mortal Engines film features massive mobile cities that prowl a post-apocalyptic landscape. This video looks at all the prop builders who constructed the imaginative weapons and devices that make up this world.
Master and Apprentice – If you haven’t seen this show yet, you are missing out. Every week, Marcus LaPorte and Adam Ellis build a replica prop from pop culture from scratch. Marcus is a production designer with 17 years experience and Adam is a novice cosplayer. The show is especially compelling because of their interaction as Marcus teaches Adam new skills and tools. It is also a very beautifully shot production.
You want a flamingo? No problem! A rare glimpse inside the RSC’s mind-boggling props HQ – Take a look into the props shop of one of the UK’s finest theaters. This article chats with Alan Fell and others involved in his department, and a multitude of photographs illustrate all the nooks and crannies of their stock.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Set Designer Shares the Secrets to Creating That Magical World – Mid-century design will always have a special place in my heart, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is one of the latest period television shows to bring that era to life. Apartment Therapy talks with Bill Groom, the production design artist behind these sets.
Life in a British Art Department for Film and Television – Graphic designer Matthew Clark gives an interview about his career in a British Art Department. In his eight years, he has worked on productions such as Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf XII, and Loaded.
But Will It Wash Off… – I forgot to post this when it first came out, but Jay Duckworth and Alex Wylie needed some spray paint that would wash off. During The Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar, they had a scene where the protesting crowd added graffiti to posters of Caesar; of course, it needed to be removed for the next performance. Yes, that’s the same production that faced heckling and interruptions this summer.
If You’re Going to Copy Broadway Show Design, Don’t Brag About It – A lot of theaters, particularly universities and community theaters, do not seem to be aware that copying the set design of a Broadway show is unethical and often illegal. Christopher Peterson breaks down the issues involved and highlights one recent example that garnered a bit of publicity.
Learn to ‘Sharpen This’ – or Any Other Tool – Chris Schwartz points us to some upcoming events by Lie-Nielsen where they will show you how to sharpen your woodworking tools for free (there’s one in NYC in November). He also links to his whole “Sharpen This” series, where he gives tips, tricks and advice for sharpening; this is a seemingly simple task, but you will find tons of conflicting and arcane information about it online.
Tony Winner Clint Ramos Previews His Shakespeare in the Park A Midsummer Night’s Dream Costumes – Ok, this isn’t really a “preview” anymore since the show has closed, but for you costume fans, this is a great glimpse at Ramos’ renderings.
The title of “prop designer” seems to appear more now than in the past. More experienced prop masters have made note that younger props people are being credited as prop designer on their shows, or self-identifying as one on their resumes. Is this just a trick of perception, or are prop designers actually growing in number? Continue reading The Rise of the Prop Designer