Finding Props for a Show

by Lila Neugebauer ‘07 and Laura Benoit ‘14

Props are not merely an array of random items we amass to fill the void of the stage. Stage properties have a life all their own: they offer an arena for creative interpretations and dramaturgical dialogue. At Yale, the search for these objects can prove to be a surprisingly painstaking pursuit. Given the proliferation of things on this campus, you’d be surprised how hard it can be to locate that perfect water pitcher, or ashtray, or skull.

Being a Props Supervisor can be incredibly rewarding as you work with the director and designers to find objects that can help tell the story. Your first step should be to read the script and make a list of any props you can think of that are mentioned in the text itself. Compare your list with the director’s list to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Then it’s time to start looking for props!

In terms of finding and sourcing props, you can start by checking out the Equipment and Materials page on the Undergraduate Production website. Be sure to discuss the fee with the warehouse manager in advance of your visit.

Other convenient, fairly affordable solutions include:

  1. The Undergraduate Production Vendor List
  2. Walgreens (88 York Street): good for basic stationary supplies; plastic utensils/serving implements; inexpensive foodstuffs.
  3. Universal Hotel Liquidators (1175 State Street): great for used but new—looking hotel furniture, lamps, tacky paintings; can range in price.
  4. Artist and Craftsman New Haven (821-825 Chapel Street): good for art supplies and toys

Some things to keep in mind: The Creative and Performing Arts Award will not cover purchases of food. So even if you need real food as a prop, the CPA won’t pay for it. Also be sure you keep all of your receipts for the props you purchase, so your producer can reimburse you. Have fun! Working on props is a really great way to influence the show through the tiniest of details.