As props master and assistant scenic designer for what turned out to be an entirely virtual production, the main difficulty was figuring out a way to showcase all my work without having fully realized props and building actual scenic pieces on a stage. In the end, I figured the best way to show my work would be to focus on the process that prop designers typically go though, rather than the final products. The best way to showcase that would be to show some of the paperwork that goes into my job.
After several talks with my mentor, we decided that creating a small Prob Bible for the main props in the show, as well as making the model furniture pieces replicating the furniture that would have been used in a fully realized production, would be the most helpful visuals in terms of showing the work that prop masters put into their shows. There’s a lot of research and paperwork that goes into being a prop master that most people don’t usually get to see, which makes the job look easier than it actually is. I’m glad that for this virtual production, people are able to see more of my job and how much work goes into every small part of designing a show.
The first thing I like to do as a designer (after becoming familiar with the show) is putting together a concept collage that showcases the moods/aesthetics of the script that I’d like to heighten in my design area. For Tuck Everlasting, I was very focused on creating a rustic and antique fairytale vibe with the props and set dressings that I’d make and pull from stock, which is why I chose these pictures for my collage.
Typically during the early stages of the design process, scenic designers build a small scale model of what their set will look like in the theater so that the rest of the creative team can visualize and better understand how all the set pieces and bigger props will move around on stage. Since we were not able to come together to fully build the set for Tuck and instead decided to continue with this project by creating a larger (1in = 1ft scale) model to show what the set would have looked like, I figured it’d be the perfect time for me to practice some model making. Since our technical director (Andrew Long) was in charge of building the set and model box, and our scenic designer (Rebecca Strom) was in charge of painting it, I decided that as assistant scenic designer and props master, I could build the furniture for the model replicating the original furniture that I would have pulled from the Village Theatre stock for a fully realized show. All of the furniture pieces were made out of foam core or apoxie sculpt with some added details made from random leftover supplies I found around my apartment that I thought could be useful.
A Prop Bible is a place where Prop Masters keep track of their ideas and plans for props, so that they can easily explain their plans in case someone needed to take over their project, or rebuild exactly what the Prop Master originally built. The few decorated pages I have made focus on the props that I knew that I would have to build myself because, after checking with the Village Theatre inventory, I knew we didn’t already have them in stock. All other props for the show would be more cost and time-effective to either find in stock or buy to then alter to fit the show's aesthetics.
You can see a more extensive list of props/furniture that would have been needed for the production down below.
Furniture Pull/Build List
In order to keep track of the furniture that we would need for the show vs what we already had in the Village Theatre inventory, I compiled a list with what I could find on their website along with images of what they looked like (which I ended up using to create the model pieces). In a fully realized production you have to be conscious of your budget, so keeping that in mind, I wanted to make sure to build and buy as little as possible.
I also compiled some helpful pictures and videos of toads that would have been useful when building the puppet for the show. This doc also includes some links to places I was looking to buy the base of the puppet from.
Props & Furniture Lists
Last but certainly not least, the prop and furniture list is the master list that props masters, scenic designers, stage managers, and stage crew end up using all the time to verify if everything they have/need for a show is in place. Since we were not able to put on a full show what I have here is the initial prop list that I made, with everything that we would have needed to get for the show, what characters are supposed to interact with each prop, and where I was planning on getting each prop from.