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You know what props you need for a play by reading the script. From the script you can make a rough props list. Then you will have a conversation with the designer and the director. They will tell you what style or period they are going to set the play in and from that you get an idea of a look or feel for a piece. Some designers have specific ideas of things they want to get on stage. Much Ado About Nothing has got a brazier on stage, that’s a designer and director choice and nothing to do with the actual play, but it helps set the scene.

If you do props you definitely have to read the script because it’s the best source of information for a show. It gives you the context for a prop. Sometimes a very bizarre prop will be requested and you think why on earth do they want that? If you read the script it explains the action in a scene and then you understand why an object is needed.

The biggest problem the props department often has to come is the lack of money. Usually there are grand ideas that just can’t be done because the money’s not there to do it or the time is not there to do it. Then we have to re-think or cut the prop or scale back the grand designs.

We try to make as many of the props as we can. It depends how specialized the required props are. Usually, being theatre, things are oversized or very particular colours and styles. So we have to make the props, but if you get the chance you go down to a shop and buy it down there because it’s usually cheaper. It just depends on what’s needed for the show.

At the end of the show

After a show is finished props generally go into storage. Most of the props from previous shows are stored downstairs in the basement, although we only store things worth keeping. Large comical props like the large wedding cake for this show will probably be thrown away. It is a very specific prop for this production of Much Ado About Nothing and there probably won’t be any need for it in the future. It really does depend how specific items are. So the cake might get binned but the huge heart decoration might get kept, or the roses in the heart might get pulled out and used for something else later. We try to recycle as much as we can because things like that cost a lot of money.