In 1942, Life Magazine published an article on the logistics of supplying the US Army. This is a good glimpse at the items one would find on Army bases and with soldiers during World War II. Many of these items are still easy to find or make, so it makes a short task of adding props and set dressing to your wartime play or musical. Photographs by Myron H. Davis.
President Obama and his daughters attended the July 18, 2015, performance of Hamilton on Broadway. His wife, Michelle, had seen it off-Broadway at the Public Theatre. Former president Bill Clinton and his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, also caught an off-Broadway performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s celebrated show about the Founding Fathers. Miranda first performed songs from the show way back in 2009 to Obama, and he sat next to the President during last week’s performance at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
As Doctor Who gears up for its 50th anniversary in little over a week, check out this new interview with their prop master, Nick Robatto. In it, you can read how he got started, what he studied in college, and how he hates fiberglass and refuses to build props with it (yay!).
For fans of a different genre, Buzzfeed has the stories behind 10 iconic Grey’s Anatomy props. It’s Buzzfeed, so they don’t go into too much detail for each one, but it is still interesting to hear the (often relatable) challenges the props team encounters with making or finding these strange items.
Here’s a brief (but illustrated) look at how furniture design changed due to World War II. The examples look incredibly contemporary, and none of it would look out of place on a modern set. It is a great post for those interested in historical trends in furniture and period styles.
So, the Smithsonian is 3D scanning their massive collection. They only have a small library of models online at the moment, but more is sure to come. Imagine the possibilities for research, where you can view a 3D model of a piece of furniture or an historic weapon right on your computer. You also have the possibility of downloading the models and exporting them to fabrication tools, such as CNCs or 3D printers. Your designer wants a wooly mammoth skeleton in the show? Just download and “print”.
I like this photography series called “Much Loved”. The photographer took photographs of teddy bears and similar toys which have been cherished for decades by their owners, and wrote a bit about their back story as well. It’s great research not just for teddy bears from 50-70 years ago, but also for the kind of extreme distressing and aging that these archetypal and cherished “favorite toys” can go through.
A whole subculture exists of prop makers making replicas of objects which exist in popular video games. Here is a great step-by-step build of a dagger from Skyrim. Though the end result is a bit “plastic-y”, the process shots show some interesting techniques and use of materials.
Finally, here is an interesting solution to the age-old problem of four-legged furniture that does not sit flat. When your tables or chairs rock, try trimming one of the legs… on the table saw:
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies