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Thursday, October 05, 2006

"We didn't need dialogue. We had faces" ~Sunset Boulevard, 1950.

The Use of Props in a Stage Production
by Marsh Drylie

“Props are material ghosts, a way for playwrights to animate stage action, question theatrical practice, and revitalize dramatic forms.” ~ Andrew Sofer, The Stage Life of Props

The use of props can vary from emphasizing a certain aspect of a production or be the center of the performance by itself. A prop’s main job is to tell the viewer who, what, where, and when. A good prop can accomplish most of these things without much explanation. Some props are stationary and play the role of background or an atmospheric element. Staging props can be elaborate or simple, even boxes when arranged in a fashion can be anything from a far off castle or a stair case.

Props are typically supposed to mimic the real object they represent as much as possible. Different types of props, like the personal prop for example, are worn on the person and can be as much a part of the character as his costume. If the viewer is familiar enough with the item, he can infer many crucial things about the act allowing said viewer to become more involved with the play. An example of a good prop would be a prop weapon, stage gun or sword, which allows for a manifestation or extension of an emotion, in this case hatred, without any unnecessary danger. This prop also allows for insight on where or when this drama took place.

Sometimes actors need special training to use certain props. Most theatrical productions engage props as much as possible to save the actors and writers from having to explain everything they need to say which, most of the time, is less efficient as an accurately cast prop in its stead.

“A picture is worth a thousand words”.

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