1. What is your role at the ASC and what do you do on a daily basis?
I’m the Properties Master at the ASC. I obtain, build, modify and maintain all theatrical props used for the ASC’s year-round program of shows. On any given day, you’ll find me around the theatre doing a wild mix of crafting – including carpentry, painting, sewing and randomly gluing things to other things.
2. What was your first experience with the ASC?
The first production I ever saw at the Blackfriars was in 2004 – The Lamentable Comedy of Sir John Falstaff. I attended on a bit of whim, after finding out that a girl I had a crush on at the time would be in attendance. We sat on opposite sides of the stage (on the gallant stools) and made eyes at each other for the first half of the production before I moved to join her for the second half (and unintentionally stole her from her actual date). We would go on to attend many future productions together, and remain friends to this day. I know this doesn’t say a lot about the Blackfriars in production, but I think it says a lot about the way the ASC (and theatre in general) can bring people together.
3. What is your favorite Shakespeare play?
I’m a big fan of The Winter’s Tale. I think many of Shakespeare’s comedies approach love as a far more whimsical force, while a number of the tragedies portray it as a destructive one. The Winter’s Tale has a bit of both; touching on the joy love can bring…the pain it can cause…and its power to heal again. There’s magic in it – both in love, and in the theatre’s ability to capture it. And who can argue with ‘Exit, Pursued by a Bear’?
4. What has been your favorite prop to build during your time at ASC?
Oh goodness. Can I throw out a few? I’m going to throw out a few: Cloten’s decapitated head and body for Cymbeline; the tentacle beast and captain’s chair for Return to the Forbidden Planet; and the stools for Troilus and Cressida. Oh, and for anyone who caught the pre-show of 2012’s The Santaland Diaries, I got to build the…Gift-in-a-Box. I really do get to have a lot of fun with my work.
5. What do you hope audiences get out of your work when they see a show?
So this is going to be a bit of a roundabout answer, but stick with me. For 2012’s Cymbeline, I built the aforementioned decapitated head and headless body. They were both pretty gnarly – in particular the head, which I put in a burlap bag, matted with blood so as to bring out the features on its face. But more than that, the head was weighted so that when Guiderius brought it onstage, he could drop it to the floor with a definitive and disgusting ‘thud’. And so on during any given performance, you could watch the mix of amusement and disgust spread through the audience as the head was revealed, then unceremoniously dropped (and again when the headless body was dragged onstage). It was this wonderful moment in what was an already incredible production, but I think that might be the point: I hope that my work may add just that little hint of amusement, wonder – and yes, even occasionally disgust – to these spectacular stories we tell at the Blackfriars Playhouse.
6. Do you have any advice for aspiring Props Masters?
Work hard. Build big. Have fun.
7. What else do you think our patrons should know about you?
After almost two years working at the Blackfriars, I still marvel at being part of such an amazing world of theatre, music, and light. I am so blessed to live in this community of art, of which you, our audience, are an essential part. Thank you.
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