Tag Archives: Stage Directions

Everybody’s Propping for the Weekend

First up is my latest article in Stage Directions magazine. I talked with a number of props masters about creative ways to stretch your props budget. The result is “Creating Relationships to Create Props.

If you can find twenty minutes today, I definitely recommend this video. TechBuilder, a 17-year old from the Philippines, builds a life-size working BB-8 droid from materials he found at the hardware store. It’s all paper-mache, Styrofoam and wood cut by hand. If he needs a tool but can’t afford it, he makes one. He uses roll-on deodorant for ball bearings. The results are absolutely stunning.

Dave Lowe has this fantastically easy but incredibly effective technique for painting faux chipped paint rusted metal. Apocalyptic props, here I come!

Ugh, another actor dead from props. This time, it’s a Japanese actor who was stabbed with a samurai sword during rehearsal. So far, they have not said whether the sword was real or a prop, and whether they think it was an accident or murder, so I don’t really have much to say about the incident. Depending on what we find out, my advice would either be A) Don’t give actors real swords without a fight choreographer present, or B) Don’t hire murderers.

Finally, take a look at some of the props Alton Brown has used over at the Food Network. Somewhere, there’s a prop maker having the time of their life.

Window Shade Gag from 39 Steps

I have a new article in the October issue of Stage Directions magazine. Last fall at Triad Stage, we did 39 Steps. I already posted about the giant chandelier I made for that show. The script also calls for a number of tricks and gags. One of them is a window shade with a mind of its own.

In my article, “Get a Grip“, I go through my process of solving that problem. I start off with an initial idea, and after a few rounds of testing and modifications, come up with a gag that works. How does it work? Well, you’ll have to read the Stage Directions article for that.

I also made a little video on it. You can witness my awesome acting skills.

May Day Links

Happy first day of May, everyone! I’m going into tech today, so the links will be short but sweet:

Jay Duckworth made 160 candlesticks for Hamilton, the most popular show in the world right now. Read his article in Stage Directions to find out how he did it. Hint: he used his drill press like a lathe. Okay, that’s a bit more than a hint.

Creative Media Skills interviews Gavin Jones, a prop maker on Game of Thrones.  Find out how he got started and what a typical day is like for him.

Barry Gibbs shows us some of the new weapons used by the Avengers in the new Avengers: Age of Ultron. Gibbs is the prop master on the film, not the last surviving member of the Bee Gees.

Behold! The quickest tutorial on Wonderflex! Demented Cosplay has a video briefly going over the properties of Wonderflex, a plastic sheet that becomes pliable with very little heat, and hardens into place at room temperature.

Friday Rehearsal Notes

I have an article out in this month’s Stage Directions magazine, hot off the presses. For “Cabinet of Wonders“, I spoke with Marc André Roy, the lighting project manager on Kurios, the new show from Cirque du Soleil. Kurios has a lot of props with wireless lighting and motion effects, and we looked at how Cirque makes that happen. I also talked with James Smith at RC4 Wireless, where all the wireless dimmers that Cirque uses are made. You may remember my blog post on my trip to RC4 Wireless earlier this summer.

These photographs of the inventories of British Soldiers are endlessly fascinating and useful. Thom Atkinson has taken all the gear and paraphernalia that a British soldier was issued at various times in history over the past 1000 years, and laid it all out on the floor. If you wanted to know what an archer was carrying at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 (say, if you’re doing Henry V), this is where you should go.

The Examiner has a great interview and profile of Beth Hathaway, a master of building creatures for film. Hathaway has been a fabrication specialist at Stan Winston Studios and KNB EFX for decades, working on projects such as Edward Scissorhands, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Walking Dead.

Finally, check out this LA Times story on Nick Metropolis, the famed LA store filled with junk and jumble of all varieties.

Friday Links

Stage Directions has a round-up of some of the top theatrical special effects companies out there. They talk about the most challenging effects they have pulled off in a live performance, and how they work with a theater to plan it out and make it happen.

The Wire has a short history of ventriloquism which is quite fascinating, if a little bit creepy. I especially enjoyed the video of Ray Alan performing with his “Lord Charles” dummy, who was performing a ventriloquist act with his own, even smaller, dummy.

Pop Chart Lab has a great poster giving a stylistic survey of graphic design. It looks like a handy reference for when you want to check if your period piece has correct-looking paper props and ephemera.

Marvel Entertainment has started their own web video series on cosplay, and the first installment shows them planning and designing the costume they will build. And hey, looks like they are borrowing a costumer from the world of theatre to help them out. Go, theatre!