Prop Artisans

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Prop Director     Prop Skills        Prop Internships        Prop Training      Contracts/Salaries






The position of Assistant Prop Master or Prop Shop Manager is found in larger theatres where multiple shows may be in the prop shop requiring a mid-level shop manager to solve day-to-day shop priorities while the Properties Director juggles the overall management of all the shows.  The Assistant might also be assigned the management of a single show within the build of multiple shows in a shop.

    A good prop person is truly a "Jack (or Jill) of All Trades".  Every hobby, interest, or experience adds to the body of knowledge informing the skill set of a props artisan.  Just think of all the situations represented on stage and the various characters portrayed needing to have props to help them fulfill the action of their character or to define something about their person.  Every day events coupled with an observant and curious mind can form a body of knowledge needed to replicate similar events on stage.  The key is to assemble a staff having an eclectic, varied, and balanced group of skills, interests, and strengths so no matter what is thrown at the prop shop to solve, one of the group can step up and say, "Oh.... I know how to do that..."

Click here to view sub-topics:


Prop Director         Prop Skills           Prop Internships          Prop Training          Contracts/Salaries   




Prop Artisan Jen Lyons, Skylight Opera Theatre

                       THE PROP STAFF

Most regional theatres and larger producing organizations have a staff to support the prop build.  Assisting the Properties Director is a crew of Properties Artisans. They are responsible for the construction, acquisition, and innovative creation of all props used in a production.  Small shops have artisans utilizing a large variety of skills with the expectation that each person has the skills to move the prop from beginning to end through the shop. Larger shops tend to have specialist artisans who work exclusively in their area of expertise such as Soft goods artisan, Carpenter, Crafts artisan, Shopper/buyer, or Assistant Prop Master/ Prop Shop Manager.  Properties artisans work under the supervision of the Properties Director but are expected to be creative, innovative, collaborative artists honoring the design intent while making the props stage worthy and safe.


A Soft Good Artisan completes the patterning, draping, tailoring, and sewing of fabric-based projects.  An understanding of fabric and sewing techniques is a necessity.         Upholstery projects utilize theatrical techniques duplicating traditional looks but often utilizing many of “costuming” tricks for fabric use.  Sewing skills are required to build the pillows, curtains, bed coverings, drapes, and all the various “soft” props needed.  An understanding of fabric dyeing and distressing is important.

   On shop built items the soft goods artisan works in the design and construction part of the project to prepare the frame for the soft goods work. 


Soft goods artisan Margaret Hasek-Guy at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre

A Properties Carpenter works to construct, restore, conserve, or alter furniture for the stage.  Using construction techniques similar to theatrical scenic construction as well as traditional woodworking processes, prop carpentry skills must allow for the repairing of damaged or fragile original pieces to a stage-worthy status, reinforce stock pieces appropriately to protect them for specific stage action, and modify existing pieces to create a designed or specific period silhouette and structure.  Increasingly, properties carpenters also fabricate furniture from scratch to meet specific design requirements as an alternative to purchasing an expensive antique and attempting to strengthen the old piece for stage use. An understanding of finishing techniques and detailing is important as well as skills in metal work and welding to construct reinforcing armatures or ornamental pieces.

Artisan Anna Warren models clay to build a statue resembling the actors face portraying a historical figure on Milwaukee Repertory Theatres stage.

The Crafts Artisan is truly a jack of all trades and this person may have a wide variety of skills including casting and molding, graphics layout and manipulation, faux painting, floral arrangement, leather working, jewelry making, special effects, carving and sculpture work.  The other specialty artisans often have crafts skills complimenting their area of specialty making this position a combination with another area.

Milwaukee Repertory Theatre Prop Artisan

Dana Fralick prepares his shopping list and research prior to departing for his workday.


The Shopper/buyer finds and procures the products, raw materials, requested items, or specific props needed for the build of the show.  Good visualization skills and an understanding of process are especially important as this artisan must coordinate the acquisition of what needs to be purchased with the other artisans who are using those items to build the props. Strong interpersonal skills help in negotiating purchases and setting up delivery of goods as well as just in the location and purchasing of items. An understanding of budget management and accounting is important in coordination with the Properties Director who is managing the overall budgetary decisions.  Strong computer skills for research and acquisition are especially valuable in this position as the ability to find specific items or order materials have become more accessible via the Web and E-Bay purchasing making the entire world a prop market place.

Props carpenter Jay Tollefsen works on a table for Our Town, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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