Each prop should be listed on their Prop List (see the Notes or Recommendations section for a prop list template) and marked under a scene name/number on the Master Prop List (this should be prepared prior to the learning activity). As a class, read over the Props and the Prop Table (digital tool) at the beginning of this activity to help familiarize students with the process.
Every time a new scene/song/section begins, a new section of the prop table should begin (example: Act I, Scene 1; followed by Act I, Scene 2).
All students in a group should then go and check the prop storage area to see what props are currently on the premises. Students should pay special attention as they select the props and make certain that they fit the time and environment of the play. The director will have final say on if a prop is acceptable. Sometimes temporary props will be used until the actual prop can be secured.
Find two to three available tables to use as prop tables. Line them up against the wall in an area without heavy traffic.
Gather masking tape and some Sharpies so students can tape off the tables in chronological order of scenes.
Tape off a space that is the appropriate size for every prop in every scene, moving from left to right on the table. Divide each scene with a piece of tape and then continue taping off boxes for each prop within this scene.
Label each prop box (made from the scotch tape on the tabletop) with the name of the prop that will live there. You can include the character name, as well, if you wish.
Place available props in their appropriate boxes.
Through formative assessments with students on the props crew, discuss what type of collaborative work took place while designing the prop table specifically for THIS show. Props crew members should provide examples of their collaboration with the actors, director, and the prop designer (if applicable) and build a prop table that accommodates all artists' needs.
Explanations of why the prop table was created in this manner should be given by students. Formative assessments regarding where props are placed on the prop table should be had and the props crew should be able to defend their reasoning for designing the prop table a certain way. If the prop table does not align with the actor/director needs, it becomes necessary for the props crew to refine their choices and revisit their process, possibly even starting the prop table over, if needed.
Read the script with your class or assign it as homework for students to read (less effective for understanding).
Ensure the class understands the script and the definition of prop within the theatre.
Explain the difference between props and set pieces or scenic elements within a play.
Gather some masking tape.
Gather some Sharpies.
Before this activity takes place the entire class or individual students must read the entire play. The play can be a full length, a one-act, or a ten-minute play, whatever works for the class level. The play will be the basis for the prop table that will be built later by the students. The play can be as prop heavy (or prop light) as required, depending on the detail or time you have to complete this activity.
The prop list should already be generated prior to beginning this activity. This prop list might be in the back of the script, or it might be created by a student or the teacher after the play has been read.
|Variation Tips (optional):
When developing actual prop table(s), the props master/mistress would need to work directly with the stage manager or director and place props on the appropriate sides of the stage based on actors entrances/exits. The props would likely not be simply in one central location unless there is a physical opportunity in the middle of a backstage area where actors would have room to gather and grab their props and get back to the wings quickly. Usually, there will be a prop table or two stage right and another one or two stage left.
*This would only be required if the prop table is getting set up for an actual performance.
|Notes or Recommendations (optional):
It is important to at least have a prop closet for students to work from. Fill this prop closet with any old props or other donated items that you’re not sure what to do with. Have the prop closet or area well organized based on where items might live in a house or in a business. Have shelving for your prop areas and labels on the shelves or some type of organization system that works for your program. Clear bins with lids are also great ways to keep props organized.
If you are just beginning a theatre program, you can start acquiring props by bringing your old belongings to the theatre and creating a prop closet. Take things from your relatives as they want to get rid of them, let it be known to your students that you are like a thrift store and will take their old belongings for future props. Write receipts for donations. Find somewhere to put the props!
If you'd like to look at a prop list template, check out this link: