Props are important not only to the final production of the show, but also in the rehearsal process. Often scripts will contain a prop list. The prop lists attached with scripts are often deceptive and if you only follow that list you will spend lots of time and money creating props you do not need and missing others you discovered you will need throughout the rehearsal process. Every show has essential props, these are the props that are absolutely necessary to the story. Create a list of these props and get them as soon as possible. The sooner your actors can work with the props the less problems you will have down the line. Food props are essential props. I cannot count the number of times I have watched an actor pretend to eat something in a scene and then almost choke when food is later introduced. Actors often forget all of the necessary biological components of eating and when those components can no longer be ignored, trouble occurs.
You are going to need two sets of props: Rehearsal props and final props. Rehearsal props are stand in props that often bare little to no resemblance to the actual prop itself. These are placeholders used while the final prop is being created, purchased, or found and is a tool to get the actor used to moving with a prop in hand. Once the final prop is ready, introduce it into rehearsals. Make sure to have the actors claim and take responsibility for the props they use.
The Properties Designer should receive updates from rehearsals each night so that they know which props are needed and which props can be discarded. Make this person an intricate, respected, and constant part of the production.
How to prepare for your meeting
- Read the play and write down the list of all of the essential props needed for the production. Essential props are the props that, if removed would severely damage the story. Remember that food props should fit into this category.
- Look at the styles and inspiration choices you have collected for your other meetings. How should these props look and feel? Make sure that the prop designer is aware of all of the choices the other designers are making so that the props fit the time period, style, and color palette.
- Find examples of pictures or images you really like of similar props and make sure to bring it to the meeting.
- Let them know their budget