I spend a lot of my time trying to source the weird and wonderful scenery and props we use in Spotlites’ professional shows, everything from a light up beating heart to dinosaur bones. This involves a lot of thinking outside the box and although my friend “the interweb” is a very quick and handy tool to have on hand I use a lot of the things I see around me.
I do a lot of recycling – this is from removing all the electronic circuits and bits from old computers and hi-fis to using Pringle tubes / lids and a lot of packaging material. We have a very large selection of different coloured lids in the Spotlites props store, all our out of date bandages from our first aid kits are stained with tea and used as costumes, anything that is broken first comes to me for disassembly – I even have a large container of tiny screws and bolts.
I also spend a lot of time in diy stores and boot fairs handling products and toys trying to think how they made the items and looking at construction techniques used. One of the problems I encounter is that we don’t have an injection moulding setup in the theatre so I and up making weaker joints in things as I have to redesign items.
But what about 3D printers I hear you say – well this seems to be a marvellous invention that may well in the future be cost effective for someone like me to use, but at the moment it is a bit too expensive and they all come in bright colours. But then again there are always new and exciting products coming onto the market that attract my attention – the latest being Sugru – it is a self setting rubber compound that is fantastic and sets after about 30 mins, or what about Steelstick which you mould with your hands and it sets like metal.
But nothing can beat the indispensable CT1 – a clear silicone mastic type material that we use so much at Spotlites in our prop making. A lot of these props have to be created due to the fantastical and off beam nature of the shows we produce. So next time you go the the theatre, spare a thought about the hours of research and creativity that went into making the props!