Live Theatre Production: Prop design

Live Theatre Production: Prop design

Prop Design Basics

  • Definition of Prop Design: Prop design involves creating items that actors use or interact with during a performance. These items can be anything from everyday objects, to specialized pieces designed specifically for the production.
  • Importance of Prop Design: Prop design’s importance lies in the fact that it helps support the narrative, setting, and characters in a play. Props can provide symbolic meaning, contribute to character development and serve to enhance the overall visual aesthetic of the production.

Prop Design Process

  • Researching for Prop Design: Designing props requires significant research into the era, culture or setting of the play, as well as the characters who will be using the props. This ensures authenticity and helps maintain a sense of believability for the audience.
  • Role of the Prop Designer: The prop designer works closely with the director, costume designer and set designer to ensure that the props complement the overall look and feel of the play, as well as fulfilling the practical needs of the actors.

Prop Creation and Maintenance

  • Materials and Techniques in Prop Design: Prop designers use a variety of materials, such as wood, plastic, fabric or metal, and techniques like crafting, painting, sewing, and 3D printing to create props as per the requirement of the story and characters.
  • Creating Specialized Props: Sometimes, a play may require specialized props, such as a breakable glass bottle or a realistic-looking weapon. In these cases, prop designers must use special techniques and materials—like sugar glass for the bottle, or a rubber or foam for the weapon—to create a prop that looks real, but is safe for use on stage.
  • Safety Considerations in Prop Design: Safety is a critical aspect of prop design. Not only should props be safe for actors to use, but they must also meet various health and safety regulations. This can influence the materials and construction methods that a prop designer chooses.
  • Maintenance and Organisation of Props: Prop designers are also responsible for maintaining props throughout the run of the show, and ensuring that they are correctly positioned for each performance. This often involves creating a prop table, where each prop is placed in its specific spot so that actors can easily find them.

Prop Design Communication

  • Communication Skills in Prop Design: Effective communication is essential in prop design. Prop designers need to accurately interpret the needs of the director, collaborate with other members of the production team, and clearly instruct people who will be creating or using the props.