Opening night signals the point where the show leaves the “shop and build” process and is fully in the hands of stage management and the run crew.  Daily performance reports (similar to rehearsal notes) are sent out to keep all areas informed of the status of the show.  The run crew is responsible for maintaining the props and doing small repairs as necessary. The prop shop should provide cleaning supplies and instruct the crew on any specialty maintenance processes.  In the event that something major is broken or a repair is beyond the skill of the run crew, the prop shop crew is usually asked to complete the note.  It is critical that the communication of any problem be immediate allowing adequate time for repair, replacement or finding another solution prior to the next performance call. 


Running props during a show is a critical part of the entire puzzle.  Props must be placed for each performance in the same place each time, oriented in the same way, and ready to compete the action required.  Working with Stage management, tracking sheets are made allowing each prop to have a pre-set position on stage or on an offstage prop run table or cabinet.  The tracking sheets follow each prop during the play and show any exits or entrances of that prop or if it requires a pre-set between scenes or acts in the play.  It should also have a final track point where it can be found at the end of the play even if it is only in a storage position in the prop run cabinet.

Click  on individuals below to see numerous examples of props tracking and prop run sheets:

Prop run tables are usually set up in the wings or offstage areas of the stage allowing actors to easily find a prop adjacent to the entrance being utilized.  Some organizations have prop run cabinets that double as the prop lock-up for storage between shows.  Whether using run tables or running out of the prop cabinet, these areas are usually divide up into a grid and labeled with the individual prop name and maybe even the scene used,  allowing for quick and efficient prop set up making it easy for the actor to find the prop in the same place each performance.


Dressed stage for HAYFEVER on opening night.                  

University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee    Set Design by Kurt Sharp

Props tracking sheet Dallas Theatre Center

Preset for LaTraviata, Skylight Opera

Run sheets for Spitfire Grill, Skylight

Prop Preset-Tray diagrams

Click here to view sub-topics:


      Load-in        Consumables        Technical rehearsal            Strike

Click here to view sub-topics:


      Load-in        Consumables        Technical rehearsal            Strike

Opening and Run

Click to see next “chapter”: The Prop Shop

Stage dressing for the top of the show or any placement of props done at intermission may require a deeper level of documentation to be sure everything is placed identically each performance.  For those props that are set on stage a hand sketched diagram may be created showing placement and noting any specific detail about placement.  Digital photographs are an especially handy way of documenting as they can be easily updated during technical rehearsals when dressing evolves.

Weapons require special consideration.  Weapons should NEVER be placed on prop run tables but accessed through a weapons lockup cabinet and handed off only as the actor prepares to go onstage.  This prevents any accidental mishandling of the weapon especially in the case of a firearm where the weapon is fired.  Guns that need to be loaded with stage blanks need to follow a special high-security protocol to guarantee that every precaution has been taken to insure the gun will fire as required and the actor using the gun, as well as anyone onstage when the gun is fired, has the assurance that all safety protocols have been followed to keep everyone safe.  The coordination between stage management or run crew loading the gun and the hand-off to the actor prior to entering the stage should be practiced as part of the technical rehearsal or during a fight call.  The hand-off of the weapon as the actor exits the stage and the safe securing of the weapon back into the weapons lock up must be coordinated between the actor, stage management, and the run crew.  Under some circumstances stage weapons such as a sword or a non-firing gun are checked out to the actor at the top of the show and it is the actor's responsibility to safeguard the weapon during the performance, checking it back in following curtain call.  Under no circumstances should a weapon be stored in the dressing room with costumes as too many people have access leaving the weapon unsecured.  


Click HERE to read example of a Theatrical Firearms Policy.                     Courtesy of Bland Wade, Properties Director

North Carolina School of the Arts

Some items are considered "personal" props and those props ARE often checked in to the actor at the start of the technical rehearsal process and are stored in the dressing room with the costume.  Examples of these kind of personal props would include an eyeglass case, paper money or coins, a cane or umbrella, a cigarette lighter or case, or a holster for a gun.  These items are checked back in to the prop shop at strike. It is wise to have these items tracked by stage management or the run crew during the run of the show with the understanding that the prop is secured with the costume nightly.


Safe and secure storage of props between show performances is a critical part of a prop run crew.  Many organizations have a room to temporarily store the hand props and stage dressing struck from the set following the performance.  Some dressing can be left in place but any prop that is critical to the action of the play should be struck for safekeeping to either a lockable prop run cabinet or to the prop run room.  Any cleaning of props should be completed immediately following the show including weapon maintenance, washing of glassware or dishes, laundry of towels or other soiled soft goods, and wiping down of tables and counter tops. This is especially important when special effects such as blood are used.  Stage blood is difficult to remove when dry and will stain fabric or painted surfaces if not cleaned up immediately following the performance.  At the end of each performance, all furniture should be covered with muslin dust covers to discourage anyone from sitting on or moving the pieces as well as to keep the items clean.


    At the end of each performance, stage management completes a performance report sent out to area heads, administration, and anyone else who needs to know the information in the report. 

    This report usually includes the following information: 

                    Name of show

                    Date and curtain time

                   Act timings / run time

                   Performance notes about anything that occurred during the play such as incorrect presets, accidents, slow pacing, missed cues, etc.

                    Actor notes such as missed entrances, dropped lines, or “off” delivery.

                    Production notes such as broken props, headset difficulties, maintenance issues, costumes needing repair or adjustment, and any technical difficulties encountered by the run crew.

    The production notes section is where the properties director usually is notified of anything dealing with props and determines if the run crew will be able to fix or adjust the prop and whether the prop shop should take over repair.  It is also where stage management alerts the prop shop when food or other consumables are running low and need to be replenished.

Click on mailbox to see example of a performance report.



It is common practice to have some sort of system to “check-out” and “check-in” props which require maintenance or repair.  Some companies utilize a simple notation system on the storage cabinet with an e-mail follow-up about what action was taken.  If it is a larger item such as furniture requiring removal from the space notification is often done via email with appropriate follow-up on the status of the piece. 

    Any prop removed for maintenance or repair should be returned in adequate time to allow for proper check-in and placement by the run crew for the next performance.  If an item is damaged beyond immediate repair (or lost) the prop shop will need to provide an adequate substitute allowing the performance to run unhindered....hence the importance of a detailed and immediate performance report to all areas needing to respond to a problem.


It is equally important for an area to be set aside for any prop that must be dropped off by the actors as they exit the stage.  On occasion, a prop must travel from one prop table to another or a prop may get struck from where it is left onstage to return as a hand-off later in the show.  Under these circumstances the prop run crew must know where and when the prop moves and designate a person to do it.  As the scene shifts are choreographed the tracking of the prop is incorporated in the shift, changes notated on the tracking sheets, and spaces made on prop tables to accommodate necessary placements or drop-offs. 


White Christmas- Skylight Opera



According to Coyote

Seattle Children’s Theatre