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May 13, 2008

I need to find a what?

A prop rabbit being held by its ears

When initially volunteering to stage manage Arcadia, I had absolutely no clue what it was about, except that it was a Tom Stoppard play and that I kind of liked Tom Stoppard. I also knew I was an experienced stage manager, having worked on three other productions in that role, and felt I had the necessary resourcefulness to find props. After all, how many props could there be? The answer to that question is: a lot. A lot of props.

It was then that I enlisted the help of Katie as an assistant stage manager. Not only was the amount of props rather large, there were also quite a few obscure ones in there, not to mention stacks of books. Due the play's double time-frame, many of the books have to be duplicated, one version for the 1809 sections of the play, and one version for the 1993 sections of the play. So, books that look like other books. It sounds difficult, but for this the DC cupboard (while insanely disorganised) proved a valuable resource, as there were stacks of leather-bound books in similar colours of varying shapes, and Ben (the producer) and I spent an interesting afternoon organising and selecting the ones we liked best out of the two-shopping-baskets-worth we had transported to the CAPITAL Centre.

Other props, such as two 19th century pistols, a dead rabbit and a tortoise were slightly more obscure to find, and I can honestly say that we were very lucky; one of my friends from my theatre course had a pair of replica old-fashioned pistols, and one of the actors happened to have a taxidermed tortoise lying around (I didn't ask), as well as a friend we could source some rabbit skins from. When trying to find props, you only get what you ask for, so ask around. Other things, like a period tea set, were found in charity shops and recycling centres. The next step in the stage management side of Arcadia will be sitting in on rehearsals and mapping out what personal props the actors need, then the props come onstage, from where, and when they come offstage and with whom, so that as a team Katie and I know the play back to front and can make sure that everything runs smoothly during every performance.

Hannah Tottenham
Stage Manager

March 2023

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  • I can relate to how you feel but I would much rather go on stage in front of loads of people than ta… by Sue on this entry
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