Properties Designer/Manager

A SECOND JOB DESCRIPTION MUST BE OBTAINED FROM JERRY HOOKER

BASIC JOB DESCRIPTION:

The Props Designer/ Manager is responsible for obtaining all props needed for the production. They also work with the Stage Manager in gathering appropriate rehearsal props early in the rehearsal process. They may also be called upon to help the Scene Designer dress the set.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Depending on the production’s needs, the Props Designer/Manager will pull from storage, purchase, or make the props for the production. A prop list will be drawn up. It may start with a list in a published script, but the Designer should still read  the script and make up their own. This list will be amended by the Director  and will probably change during the process. Sometimes communication will be made through the Stage Manager.

There is no iron clad definition of the word “PROPS.” Traditionally, they are the items handled by the actors. However, each production has it’s own definition and the other designers may want to make some choices. For example, a pair of glasses might be considered part of the costume. It is important that the Props Designer has a clear understanding of his/her specific responsibilities from the earliest production meetings. With the list should be a priority of when each final  prop is needed. Props that actors need to rehearse with a lot for timing should be obtained early on. The latest all props should be finished and ready for use is the first technical rehearsal. However, it may be decided that props need to be finished before that time. This should be decided on early in the production time so the Props Designer has ample time in order to finish the props.

There is a Props budget for each production. The Props Designer should be aware of the budget and be able to give a budget report at production meetings. The Props Designer should make an approximate cost list for the props. He/She will need to decide what will need to be purchased, whether it’s the actual prop or materials needed to build a prop. It is important to allow for props that need to be replenished, such as food or fresh flowers.

The first place to look for props is the prop storage area in the trap room and the storage area in the old “church.”  There is a Work Study student hired maintain the trap room and to help look for props.  If an item is found that is close to the description of a specific prop, speak to the UT Technical Director before altering or painting the item.

If something needs to be bought, Purchase Orders can be obtained from the UT Technical Director. Most stores in Eugene/Springfield take POs (   If you have any doubts check with the store’s Customer Service department. The PO is a two copy document. Give the top copy to the store and return the bottom two copy with a store receipt to the UT Technical Director immediately. Sometimes it seems easier to use cash and be reimbursed. This is not a good idea. There will be some time and extra paperwork before the money can be returned. If cash must be used, the proper store receipt must be given to the UT Scene Designer.

Any single item costing more than $50 must not be purchased without the approval of the director AND faculty scene designer.

If something needs to be built  the Props Designer should check with the production Technical Director for help if needed. The UT Technical Director and Shop Supervisor are also available for advice. Student labor may also be available.

Sometimes we do borrow from the other theatre companies or stores in town. It’s important to treat any borrowed prop with care and to return it promptly after the production. It’s also important to make sure acknowledgement is made in the program. Once in awhile a personal possession or a valuable object from a store is borrowed. This should be done in extreme cases only. The UT Technical Director must be informed. A replacement value needs to be known before the item is borrowed. It may be determined that  it is too expensive for the risk of theft or damage. In any case, the use of the prop in the production should be examined before borrowing it. If the necessary stage business could damage the prop, another solution needs to be found.

It is the Props Designer’s responsibility to set up the production’s prop storage and tables. There are prop cabinets available. It’s important that props can   fit neatly into the boxes. Storage of large items will need to be resolved with the Stage Manager and  Technical Director. Valuable props and weapons need to be stored in a locked room. The prop boxes need to be locked when there isn’t someone with them. There been props stolen from the Robinson Theatre during the middle of a working day.

Prop tables can be obtained from the UT Technical Director. Their placement will be determined by the Stage Manager and Technical Director. The Props Designer is responsible for covering the tables with brown craft paper. Outlines and labels of each prop should be drawn on the paper. The Stage Manager should be consulted as to which side of the stage each prop should be set.

Even though the Props Designer does not have to attend every rehearsal and performance, they need to be aware of the use of each prop and the location of each prop that is preset on stage. It will be part of their duty to help train the crew that will be running the performances.

The Props Designer needs to attend all Tech/Dress Rehearsals and should check in with the Stage Manager each day of the run of the production. They may need to replace or fix broken props.

The Props Designer may be asked to help the Scene Designer dress the set on those productions for which props are an important part of the dressing. The commitment and schedule for this should be arranged during an early production meeting.

They should attend all run throughs and other rehearsals the director deems necessary (with a fair amount of warning). The Props Designer must attend all Technical/Dress rehearsals. He/She should check with the Stage Manager every day during the run of the show to insure that all the props are as they should be.

The Prop Manager needs to return all props to their proper places immediately after the production.

A NOTE ABOUT THE PROPS DESIGNER’S RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF THE PRODUCTION STAFF:

The Props Designer works directly with the Director, Stage Manager (and assistants), Scene Designer, Technical Director, Costume Designer, and sometimes Actors. Clear communication is all important. It doesn’t hurt to check with everyone. But it’s important to remember the Prop Designer’s responsibilities. There will be priorities needed to be kept and a budget not to be exceeded.

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