Part of our third and final year curriculum at NIDA includes taking on the role of prop-master for a graduate show involving all the other disciplines – acting, technical production, costume and staging. The role includes not only building props but managing the entire prop department – comprised of other junior students – and working with the designers, set-builders, technical crew and management to put together a full-scale play.
While the show also required budgeting, scheduling and liaising with other departments, one of the most rewarding areas of this play was the prop creation. As soon as I knew who the designer was I became interested, and when I saw the set design I put my preference forth to be assigned this play. Dann Barber has consistently pushed the boundaries of what can be accomplished with the resources we have and taken full advantage of the working costume, sets and properties workshops staffed by the other students. This play was definitely his biggest yet, and the mammoth production was sometimes difficult to manage and pushed all the students to the limit, but was ultimately a truly rewarding experience.
For my part, the 4 metre high statue of Michaelangelo’s David was probably the most fun part of the prop-building. Another fun prop to build was the full-scale cast iron lamp-post. It had to be a light prop as the entire stage was on a revolve and would need to be weighted at the bottom for a low centre of gravity. I made most of the cast iron out of various types of foam, either cast or carved.