When you’re in charge of props for your theatre company’s latest show, there’s always that one prop that leaves you scratching your head (e.g. dead cat on a string). How in the name of Dionysos will I make that? Or, what the heck kind of show is this, anyway?
For our production of Ruthless, creating a fake roasted turkey was a challenge – but one willingly met with the help of cling wrap and spray paint. From tap boots to fit a monster (Young Frankenstein) to under-the-sea delicacies, we’ve faced more than a few ‘what the’ prop challenges.
We asked Theatre WA to tell us the weirdest prop they have ever bought or made, and their responses confirmed what we already knew: theatre is strange and wonderful world. And body parts are a more common prop than the uninitiated might think.
- “Cockroaches to be eaten on stage in Pitchfork Disney.” – Grant Malcolm
- “Torture devices for The Addams Family.” – Krispin Maeslu
- “‘Thing’ hands and a carnivorous plant (with moving mouth!) for The Addams Family.” – Chantal Wilson
- “I knitted some sardines for Darling buds of May!” Shelley McGinn
- “I made a crayfish that the cast had to eat on stage. It was made out of a crust-less French stick which I shaped like a crayfish tail and it had orangey/pinky food colouring to simulate the colour of a cooked crayfish. I wish I’d taken a pic, it was very realistic. I had to do a new one every night.” – Michèle Acott
- “A Dragon with a working head that was built onto an RC car.” Kiri Vinsen
- “Pot plant puppet Audrey (Little Shop of Horrors) complete with on-demand wilting leaves. The ‘Rodinator’ – a compressed air gun used with a valve to blast air for a variety of props/s-fx like shotgunning plaster ceilings (The Young Ones). A torture chair, complete with straps and a see-through Perspex rat eat-your-face-off attachable box (1984).” – Rod Wilson
- “A blow-up, full-sized Hitler doll.” – Shelley Stubbs
- “A laughing sailor.” – Danni Ashton
- “All the Little Shop of Horrors puppets including Pod 4, the one that eats people.” – Gary Wetherilt
- “A chicken whose eyes lit up – a ‘battery hen’!” – Les Morley-Hart
THE BODY PARTS
- “Developing a scrotum-shaped gobo for a show.” – Chris Thomas
- “A giant vagina to use as a doorway for my Fringe show.” – Alide Chaney
- “I made a wolf penis once. And the other day I asked a school mum if we could borrow her baby.” – Princess Nicole
- “A very large black cardboard penis – I’m talking fridge size.” – Karen Francis
- “A ‘Bat-symbol’ type gobo of a penis.” – Graeme Johnson
- “A bronze cast of an erect part of Sir Winston Churchill’s anatomy for What the Butler Saw.” – Grant Malcolm
- “I made the prop for What the Butler Saw from a dildo, empty toilet roll and black and bronze paint.” – Pamela Smith
- “An obscene object for Don’s Party comprising a large timber rod with two red rubber balls tied to it built with relish and brought to rehearsal by a giggling real-life deacon in the Anglican Church.” – Grant Malcolm