Experience and skills necessary
- Possess excellent verbal communication skills
- Very good organizational skills
- Good handle on time management
- Good memory
- Helpful to have some teaching skills, i.e. knowledge of how people learn things using different senses-auditory (verbal instructions), visual (tables, charts, text, drawings, photos, maps, labels), etc.
- Ability to get along with others
- Attend weekly production meetings to gain an understanding as to how many props there will be and therefore how many crew you’ll need on each show
- Meet with the Props Master and establish how the two of you will operate and communicate
- Obtain the following from from Stage Manager:
- Contact list (cast and crew)
- Rehearsal and performance calendar
- Find out from the Stage Manager when:
- The names of your crew are due (for the playbill)
- The schedule is due
- Start calling for crew members
- All crew members are required to be dressed in all black during each performance. RLT will provide each crew member a Black crew tee shirt once each season. If this will be the first show of the year for one of your crew members, give their name and shirt size to the Technical Director at one of the production meetings.
Where to find crew members
- Check the sign-up sheet from the most recent Backstage Night. Wayne Olson should have this in a spreadsheet. As a matter of courtesy, you should contact everyone who’s indicated they’re interested in doing props on this show. You might even try contacting people who have signed up for other positions, not just props. Sometimes new volunteers may not be sure what area they want to work in and sometimes it’s good just to get them to come on down and get involved.
- Post an append on the RLTvolunteers Yahoo Group. If you need a large crew, multiple postings may be needed. Instructions are here (need to add)
- Ask the Props Master for ideas
- Ask the Technical Director for help
- Contact people who signed up for running, lights or sound crew for this show and see if they’d like to “cross over” to props (assuming those crew chiefs already have plenty of help)
- Contact people who signed up for props on other shows
- Contact people who auditioned for the current play, but ended up not being cast
Develop a schedule
Before you begin, confirm how many crew members you’ll need for each show.
If there are back-to-back shows (eg a 2pm and a 5pm show), ask if they can work both shows (the benefit is that they will be fed (free food) in the break between the shows, typically in the Green Room)
Some crew members may only be able to work certain nights and certain numbers of nights. Other members are happy to work any nights or any number of nights. Try to accomodate both of these – don’t over-extend those that don’t or can’t, and don’t under-extend those that want to “get into it”. Worst case is that they become disillusioned and won’t come back.
- If the show involves food, make sure you tell potential crew members before you sign them up
- Use a word processor or spreadsheet program to develop your schedule
- If you need two or more per night, pair new volunteers with veterans, so the newbies can learn
- Required that each crew member participe in 2-3 technical rehearsals for training purposes.
- If there are two props stations (eg stage left and stage right), make sure a crew member has training on that station during tech week before you put them on that station during a performance.
- If practical, schedule crew members so they work consecutive shows. That way, they won’t get rusty
- If possible, schedule backups in case a crew member can’t make it
- If a crew member can’t make a show they were signed up for, your choices are:
- Get them to contact you so you can make backup arrangements
- Tell them they are responsible to find a backup
Tech Saturday and Tech Week
Tech Saturday is the Saturday before the show opens.
- Work with the Props Master to prepare the tables at each props station
- Learn where each prop is placed on the table and where it is used in the show
- Teach your crew how to handle the props
During the Run of the Show
Props may get lost or damaged during or before a show. If this occurs, the Prop Master needs to be contacted to address the problem. To insure this happens, make sure that your crew knows that they need to get this information to the SM directly or via the ASM ASAP. Your crew should also be directed to contact you if a problem occurs.
You should attend strike to help put all the props away.
Once the run has completed, it is the Props Master’s responsibility to ensure that all props used in a production are returned to the appropriate place (props room, cupboard, the warehouse, or thrown away). However, the Props Master may ask you to organize this activity (and get others to help). You should check the Props Master to find out what needs done and by whom.
As to who you can ask to help you strike the props, get the props crew to help (those that are there to help), but your best source of helpers may be the actors. It might be wise to check with the technical director (who basically runs the entire strike) if it is OK to have the actors help you).
Hints & Tips
Additional hints & tips about being a Props Crew Chief:
- Cover the props tables with white paper and draw regions to put each prop. That way, each prop has its home (good for the cast and props crew) and will make it easier to spot missing props (good for the crew)
- Delegate/Document/Feedback/Empower your crew
- Make a note of the key words, music, timing/times, dialogue so that your crew can be read for the cue or handoff
- Be aware of the prop traffic and arrange the props tables to be most efficient
- Use a sketch of a bookshelf or desk with all the props clearly indicated is one way to ensure the proper placement of these items.
- Use an digital or instant film camera to record the placement of props in complex arrangements
- Make individual property checklists for those props that are preset on stage and one checklist for stage left and stage right prop tables or storage locations.
- Map out the prop tables for each prop stored on the table.
- Keep a separate list and a picture of the layout of each prop table in case the paper map is destroyed or disappears. Also make sure the Stage Manager has a copy of these.
- Put water in ash trays and use sand-filled buckets for cigarettes, cigars, candles, matches.