While I was in Chicago for the S*P*A*M Conference, I was able to tour the facilities of the Theater School at DePaul University. Their current space is fairly new, and all their shops, theaters, and small storage are located in a single building.
The tour was led by the props master, Amy Peter. Amy was actually my predecessor at Triad Stage before she headed off to Chicago.Â
They have a great production calendar in the hall that several of us stopped to photograph. You can see the full year at a glance, and all the tiles are on sliding tracks.
The first space we toured was the scenic art shop. It had (gasp) windows that could be completely blacked out, so you have the option of enjoying natural light while you work, or viewing your work under artificial light to see what it would look like on stage.
Since this is a school, you can find plenty of helpful reminders scattered all over the place. This choir of sad paintbrushes are a testament to what happens when you let paint dry on them.
The prop shop was just down the hall from the paint and scenic shops, which is super convenient. It was a tight space, but packed to the gills with tools and material storage, as well as fun pieces from past productions.
Amy’s office had a window that could look out to the props shop. And what’s that on the bookshelf? In the center of the middle row? What a useful book!
Though furniture was kept in an off-site warehouse, hand prop storage was within the same building. Again, every square inch was packed full, but everything was neatly organized and the aisles were completely clear.
Tiny props like ink stamps and pens were kept in these re-purposed file card organizers.
Whenever I organize an area of prop storage, I like to be able to see everything that is there, and I never want to move more than one or two items to get the one I want. That was exactly how DePaul’s hand prop storage was set up. It was glorious.