Behind the Curtains, by Jenn Doubleday
As we enter the (slight) chill of October, I thought it appropriate to share a darker, more frightening tale suitable for the season. So I’m going to take you deep, deep into the belly of Savannah Children’s Theatre, past the grey curtains, past the shop, and into…
THE PROP ROOM
Cue the scary music.
Back when our building was a department store, this room was the storage closet for the shoe department. Since they left behind all of their shelving units, we thought this room would be perfect for organizing all of our theatrical sundries. I’m sure the shelves worked beautifully for stacking neat and tidy boxes of shoes, but we’re a children’s theatre, and we don’t do neat and tidy! We do tambourines and toy trains, swords and rubber chickens. Not surprisingly, objects like giant sandwiches and tiny rocking chairs don’t fit easily onto standard shelving units.
Over the years, we’ve tried everything possible to organize this space. We tried organizing by size, by color, and for about five minutes, alphabetically. For a time, Muse Arts Warehouse’s Director, Jin Hi Rand, helped me in my pursuit to organize the prop room by category; kitchen items, foliage, armory, animals, animal puppets, animal puppets dressed like people…you get the idea. But no matter how well we categorized, there was always a shelf labeled “miscellaneous” that managed to slowly take over the entire room. We even had an Eagle Scout organize the prop closet as his final project! I saw him walk in, but I’m not sure he ever came out.
Several college interns have wisely advised us to catalog our items by photographing them and putting them into a book, assigning them with a number, and assigning each number a spot on a shelf. It’s a beautiful idea, like unicorns eating ice cream, but it just isn’t practical. Not only are there hundreds (dare I say thousands?) of items to be cataloged, but the items themselves are constantly changing.
Take, for example, this cartoon-inspired bomb:
Made out of a Styrofoam ball, a length of paper towel tube, some rope and some mylar, it will surely vanquish any handlebar-mustachioed foe! Previously, this same ball has been part of a prisoner’s ball-and-chain, a giant cherry, and the head of a snowman. Within the next two weeks, we will take a matching ball and a length of PVC pipe (probably repurposed from a super-long Ogre arm) to create a 100K dumbbell for use in the fair scene of Charlotte’s Web. Cataloging the life cycle of each prop would be a full-time job all to itself!
SCT is a non-profit organization, and while our donors and sponsors are exceedingly generous, we still operate with finite resources. We recycle, reuse, and repurpose set pieces and costumes as well as our props. As our small (but mighty!) staff hops from show to show, we need volunteers to help us transform for each new production. If you are an analytical mind, we would love your assistance with sorting, organizing, and making order out of our beautifully glittered chaos. If you are a creative mind who can look at a few paint cans and see their potential to become drums, flower pots, or giant binoculars, we need you to share your vision . Stop by and fill out a volunteer sheet today! Just don’t go in the prop room by yourself…