Props and the Props Master

by Carole Kelly

Prop: Various objects used by actors/actresses during their scenes.
Props Master: The person who finds, borrows, buys, or makes those objects.

Once the PM is certain of what is needed, he/she begins to collect them from wherever they might be found. This might be from the theater company’s storage, other theater companies, thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, and even cast and crew members. Often, the PM will research the “look” of items for specific time periods.

As rehearsals progress, more props may be identified. There is no hard and fast rule that names what a prop might be, but it is generally any item that an actor/actress picks up and uses. It is not unusual for a director to add items to this list.

An important function of the PM is to keep accurate records of where items were obtained so that at the close of the show, everything can either be stored or returned to its owner (particularly important if the item is rented).

A primary function of the PM is to be certain that every prop for every scene is where it needs to be for the actor. Sometimes a prop is pre-set and used during the show. Other times the prop is set offstage for the actor to grab as he/she enters.

If you are interested in being a PM but need experience, you might consider being an Props Master Assistant. It’s a good way to learn the job and all that is involved.