Props crew: Imperfection is perfection

Its almost showtime! And the props crew is ready to make magic.

By Donald Curry

It’s almost showtime! And the props crew is ready to make magic.

Emily Book

“WoooOOO, woooOOO!”

   I whipped my head to the side and jumped with great scare.

   Suddenly, my eardrums were overwhelmed with the loud noise and my eyes quickly drew attention to the flashing lights.

   I quickly turned my head to see where the mayhem was coming from.    

   Lucky enough, the chaos of the last ten seconds was just our speaker named “MONSTER” in Bluetooth settings signaling a weather alert, even though the weather was mild.

   Props Instructor Donald Curry suddenly yelled, “HOW DO I TURN THIS OFF?”   

   About a minute later, the speaker was finally turned off successfully. Strangely enough, this was just another normal day working in West Ottawa Theater’s props crew.

   Props crew consists of the long process of making and finding props for shows. This sounds simple to the ear, but what we do is surely not simple.

   Along with props crew, there is props running crew. This crew consists of some if not all of the members of the regular props crew. During the show, props running crew runs props to and from the cast, all while making sure what prop goes or comes from certain scenes. It is a stressful challenge to make sure we are not missing constant cues. This can become very stressful very fast. 


Making Props

   Making props is a big process; this is why we have the Props Shop at Harbor Lights Middle School, right next to the auditorium. The props shop is full of big machines, all different sizes and kinds of wood, felt, hot glue, scissors, paint, paintbrushes, spray paint, and much more.

   To make a prop, there must first be a vision. This vision is thought up by Curry, and often props crew members as well. A vision usually comes with a search for materials in the Props Shop, a search online, or a search of our own homes. After we find materials, the making process begins. Making a prop can take anywhere from 20 minutes to weeks.

   We once had to cut out 96 mini animals made out of felt. After weeks of sore fingers from tracing stencils and cutting animals for hours, we finally finished.

   “Figuring out how to make the props look their best without spending too much time on one prop can be really hard. You have to realize that they don’t need to be perfect; the audience won’t notice one little imperfection,” Soph. Gionna Bean said. 

   Imperfection is perfection in props crew. 

   “The hardest part about being in props is the amount of work that goes into all of the props and some of the larger props that have to be done,” Reesyn-Rose Kladder-Garlock said.

   Another time, we had to drill two books together to make the illusion of an extremely large book. We then had to cover the book in paper, glue it, and paint it. This took more than a week.


Finding Props

   Finding props is sometimes very difficult. Not only does the Props Shop (specifically the props loft in the Props Shop) have hundreds of props from previous shows, but so do two props closets and the green room. Sorting through endless cabinets, baskets, shelves, tables, and bins becomes tiresome easily when looking for the perfect prop. 

   For example, I once had to search for a microphone. This is seemingly a common prop, but the search for it was tiresome. I searched the entire props loft only for one to not be in there. I finally found a microphone in one of the prop closets, but it looked like an old-timey microphone, one that would not suit the current show. 

   Even if we do find a prop that will work, Curry needs to approve the prop first, just to make sure it’s perfect.

   If the prop we are looking for is nowhere to be found and not easily made, Curry begins the search for the prop online. Not all props are easily found on Amazon or Etsy. He sometimes has to go to stores as well. The search won’t stop until the perfect prop is found.


Props Crew Knows How to Have Fun

   Though prop making is a process, props crew sure knows how to have fun. 

   “It was so funny when we hid in the props loft. Lucy told Mr. Curry we didn’t show up and he’s just like ‘Okay, this stinks. I guess today is gonna be very very hard,’ and then we popped out and he was like ‘Never do that again,’ it was priceless; definitely worth doing again,” Gionna Bean said.

   On this day, Curry was running late to rehearsal, and we decided that it would be funny if we hid from him. Lucia Coipel decided to stay downstairs to make it seem as she was the only person to show up to rehearsal. We waited in the props loft for at least 5 minutes; when Curry finally arrived, he was so confused why Coipel was the only person who showed up. Once we came out, he was happily angry.

   Sr. Zoebelle Bean said, “We created a triangle of people on chairs with me, Lorri, and Anna and put Bianca on top during Godspell.” 

   “Being backstage, getting to hang with the actors, and hearing the play without seeing it is one of my favorite parts of Props Crew,” Kladder-Garlock said.


Join Props Crew!

   Props crew is great fun and an amazing way to spend one’s time after school. One gets to experience what it’s like to be a “theater kid” and gets to use their creative side on a daily. Even if one is not a theater kid, I highly recommend props crew to anyone who is even remotely interested.