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Prop make-over, part II

posted by prop shop on Tue, Nov 18, 2008
in Prop shop

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So, yesterday, we talked about the living room in Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Today, our journey begins in the kitchen.

We found this lovely item on Craigslist which Gretta transformed into a built-in kitchen unit by taking off the feet, building cabinets around it, and adjusting the top "warming oven" to be larger and taller.

Stove - original

There’s a lot of action with making the biscuits in the upper "warming oven" section, but the rest never gets used. Gretta also changed the backsplash shape to allow the kitchen tile wall to show through, and of course painted the whole thing.

Stove - final

It’s super-sweet and cozy now, even without real wood burning inside. (And yes, the actors are eating real biscuits and grits, made in the real kitchen backstage).

The sink was actually one of the hardest pieces we had to deal with on this show. It was extremely hard to locate a sink that had the basin on the left hand side and the drain board on the right. Scott’s design would not work in the opposite configuration, unfortunately. After much searching we found this one, which wasn’t Scott’s ideal size or shape, but it was an acceptable option. We added the plumbing, faucets, and base to this New Jersey salvage yard sink (I won’t tell you how much this project cost, but it might be the most expensive thing on stage). It’s a hollow cast-iron sink, and still incredibly heavy. This picture shows where Jill added back and bottom pieces to join the sink to its legs.

Sink - original

And then she built the little period-appropriate refrigerator and counter to match. With help from the scene shop, she installed real plumbing to the faucets, as well as fake pipes that go up and into the window. (The actors wash their hands and dishes throughout the play.)

Sink - final

There are many more items in this set which we built from scratch. Ultimately, nothing was untouched by us, whether it was painted or reinforced or re-manufactured. It’s a pretty stunning set overall, and the props really add to it, if I do say so myself.

Set - final

The Arabian Nights opens tonight…and, while I’m not sure I should tell you all our tricks before it opens, maybe I’ll give you a little sample of things to look for that won’t look like what you see here:

We purchased some beautiful umbrellas that will look nothing like this by the time you see them in the show. They've been totally transformed to the world of sari fabric and gilded trim of Mara’s costume design.

Umbrellas - original

This is Dan, the set designer, figuring out how to make a glorious throne out of a Moroccan import chair. It will be absolutely fabulous...

Dan Ostling 1

And this is one of many sad pillows from our stock that gets a total make-over. It’s actually pretty unrecognizable in its new form:

Moroccan pillow - original 

AN - pillow - final 
After (see what I mean?)

Lastly, we got these "ottomans" from Lookingglass Theatre, who originally produced the play (they’re also Mary’s home base). Sarah from our shop worked with the new scene shop C&C router (such a glorious addition to our arsenal of cool tools) and the scenic art department to make these look even more exciting than they do here.

One original ottoman

Mike Fink 
Our scenic art intern, Mike, re-painting one of the inset tabletops

We repaired all of them, and Jill built one more from scratch. These ottomans are integral to all the action in the show--they create spaces in the way scenery usually does, so they're more than just furniture on the set. One even becomes a flying carpet...!

Arabian nights cast

This is another totally lovely show. Both of these set designers are ones we thoroughly enjoy working with, and they come up with such pretty stuff. It really makes the effort worth it.

All photos here courtesy of brtpropshop.


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