Author Topic: FORMS: Prop tracking for a large show  (Read 7484 times)

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HollywoodH

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FORMS: Prop tracking for a large show
« on: Apr 26, 2006, 08:52 pm »
Hello,

I am working on a few large shows this summer. What do you find is the best way to track props on a prop heavy show? I would like to hear any suggestions as I am still trying to figure out what best way will work for me.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:17 pm by PSMKay »

KC_SM_0807

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Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #1 on: Apr 26, 2006, 10:09 pm »
Find out what your limit is on what you can buy.  I've found that it helps a lot to go to old thrift stores, goodwill, dollar stores, salvation army etc.  The most important thing is to be resourceful.  If it's something you couldn't possibly buy, find a way to make it.  If you need a large amount of something, try contacting a place most specific to your needs.  For example, in my current production, we need 34 matching hymn books, so we contacted a local church and they were willing to loan things to us.  Also, talk to your Producer and see if these people can have an ad in the program or get a special thanks.  That may encourage them to donate even more.
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

smejs

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Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #2 on: Apr 26, 2006, 10:45 pm »
I think Hollywood was asking about the paperwork, not the actual props.

Everyone has their theories of how to track, but one major piece of paperwork I create is a Running Info sheet that lists every single entrance and exit of an actor.  With it, I have columns of the timing from the start of the show (only have to keep one stopwatch running), the script page, the place (UR Door, etc), and if the actor is carrying a prop.  I also include a note upon exit if the actor needs to make a quickchange.  In this, I also list all major set changes, prop moves by crew, etc  Gets to be quite an extensive piece of paperwork to upkeep, but eventually you can glean LOTS of info from one piece, especially lots of timings for things you never knew you wanted.  Anyway, but from that you can glean specific entrances and exits of props.

I can email examples to those who ask.

As for the preset, I prefer the kind that requires a checkmark for every single piece during preset, so you don't miss something you swore you set already...

Erin

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Mac Calder

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Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #3 on: Apr 27, 2006, 01:53 am »
I like to set it up so I can do a visual inspection at a glance as well as an indepth later - Usually that means spiking long tressel tables into 'boxes' that hold each prop. I like to organise in the order of use and charactor. I also like to delegate a certain ammount of props responsibilty to the actors - for example, I number everything that has multiples - for example swords - I number them from 1->'X' and assign a number to each actor that requires one, and they are responsible for that sword. I provide a bucket for them all to go into at the end of the night, which is where they pick them up pre show too, labled "Swords ('X')" ('X') being the number that should be in there.

I still check everything - I have prompt lists postered up behind each prop table and I do a pre-show check on a props check form in my prompt copy. I give the ASM a running list that has what prop goes on when, from where, with whome, and where and when it comes off. My last show had 63 different non-set props, and in that case, I dubbed one ASM "Prop-Master" - she was in charge of checking props etc and tracking their movements - a big relief for me.

My saying for the week is "There is more than one way to skin a cat" - and that certainly holds for prop management.

killerdana

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Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #4 on: Apr 27, 2006, 02:25 am »
I also like to use prop tables, but I double check the boxes on the table by having a check list for each table.  I (or my prop master) check off each prop before and after each performance, so if anything goes missing there's a limited time frame in which it could have disappeared.  It makes missing props easier to track.  Also, if we have some dark days or if my show doesn't have sole access to the space, I like to have a lidded plastic bin to coordinate with each table.  This way I can put things in storage and when I take them back out I don't have to sort everything again.
Science without art is sterile.  --Albert Einstein

nmno

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Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #5 on: Apr 27, 2006, 03:16 am »
When I ASM usually I do the exit/entrance/deck activities plot that Erin mentioned and that works for me.  I also draw diagrams at the top of each page of what is onstage (or about to come onstage) so no matter where the director wants to pick it up from I can quickly reset props.  Not a great method since it doesn't show what's offstage but its a good place to start.

An interesting thing that I saw one ASM do: much like you do a character/sc breakdown, with each actors name in the first column and each page number along the top with an x for the pages that the actor is on - she replaced actors for props.  So you could look at the grid and see that the candlestick entered from SL2 on page 12 and remained onstage until p 26 when it exits SR1.  She had some obscure shorthand to note who entered with it, had it on any given page, but I suppose you can find that information in your actor entrance/exit chart or in the blocking notes on pgs 12 and 26.  What was great about it was the director would say, "After the break, we are going to jump ahead to p73" and she quickly knew what props needed to be set onstage, which were SL, which were SR and which were dead so she could ignore them.  For most shows it might be overkill, but it seemed to be a pretty useful rehearsal tool in this case.

amylee

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Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #6 on: Apr 27, 2006, 09:36 am »
I recently was pulled in to ASM a production of JOSEPH....DREAMCOAT that a nearby theatre does every year at Christmas.

This show is a props nightmare - plus it's a youth production - plus the crew is usually the kids' parents (who don't do any other theatre).

I made a plot-ladder that was basically a three-column chart. First column listed the name of the song (I have also done this with names for scenes or beats). The second column is "what's being used onstage". The third column was "what's the crew doing backstage".

The third column was usually a mix of recovery tasks from the last scene and prep work for the next one.

It worked very well for my situation - an inexperienced crew that had a different composition pretty much every night (there were a few parents who came to most of the shows, but also a lot who were only there once or twice)

I made about a million copies - you couldn't walk 10 feet backstage without seeing one :)
amy lee
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HollywoodH

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Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #7 on: Apr 28, 2006, 12:59 am »
Thank you everyone for such great information and ideas. I really appreciate the feedback :) It gave me different perspectives to look at and ideas.

MatthewShiner

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Large Shows vs Small Shows
« Reply #8 on: Apr 28, 2006, 08:34 am »
I am unsure if there is any special way to track a large prop show versus a small prop show (or for that matter, a medium prop show).

I think it all comes down to documenting from the intial conception of the prop in the report, to an accurate prop list, and then onto a running list.

I feel prop numbers, after years of fighting them, are actually a good thing to help track props (you may have 10 identical chairs, but knowing that rarely are chairs ever TREATED the same, it's nice to track the chairs . . . for example . . . I would the number the chairs 1 - 10, so I can track them during the run, always making sure chair 1-10 were always pre-set and set the way - so if chair 9 keeps break, we know who interacts with that chair, and that chair should be reinforced.)
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Didaskalos

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Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #9 on: Apr 28, 2006, 08:31 pm »
Since I work with students, I ususally have the luxury of having a Deputy Props Master as well as a Props Master.  This allows for double checking every time props are brought out and stored away.  One person could do the job just as easily.  Below is the procedure we use.

Before Rehearsal/Performance Begins:

•PROPS CREW members retrieve all props containers from locked storage.  (Note:  These containers are sorted by act and scene during early rehearsals.  During full-act run-throughs and dress rehearsals when props tables are set up backstage, they are sorted by backstage location--SL, SR, etc.) The  DEPUTY PROPS MASTER will call off each item in each container.  PROPS CREW members will remove each item as it is called, check it for damage, make sure that it is functional, and place it in its proper preset location.  If any item is missing, damaged or non-functional, report this to the DEPUTY PROPS MASTER immediately.  

•When all props are in place, the DEPUTY PROPS MASTER notifies the PROPS MASTER, and then reports to the STAGE MANAGER, who will sign off the prop check on the Preshow Checklist.

•PROPS MASTER inspects all props for accurate function and placement and reports to the STAGE MANAGER, who will sign off the prop placement on the Preshow Checklist.


When Rehearsal/Performance Ends:

•The PROPS CREW polices the stage for any misplaced props.

•The DEPUTY PROPS MASTER calls every single item on properties checklist to be sure all props are present and accounted for; and marks any item that is missing or damaged.  PROPS CREW members locate each and every item as it is called and quickly but carefully inspect it for damage.  Missing or damaged items must be reported to the DEPUTY PROPS MASTER immediately.  After each item is inspected thoroughly, PROPS CREW members carefully place each prop into its appropriate storage container or location designated by the DEPUTY PROPS MASTER.

•When all props are in storage containers, the DEPUTY PROPS MASTER notifies the PROPS MASTER, and then reports to the STAGE MANAGER, who will sign off the prop check on the Postshow Checklist.

•The PROPS MASTER inspects all containers for accuracy.  The PROPS CREW then places all containers in designated storage area(s), and locks them up.  When all props are properly stored, the PROPS MASTER reports to the STAGE MANAGER, who will sign off the prop storage on the Postshow Checklist.  PROPS CREW PERSONNEL thank one another, the DEPUTY STAGE MANAGER, and the STAGE MANAGER.  

•Then, all PROPS PERSONNEL sign out with the STAGE MANAGER.
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dlenik

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Re: Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #10 on: Sep 19, 2014, 04:14 pm »
I think Hollywood was asking about the paperwork, not the actual props.

Everyone has their theories of how to track, but one major piece of paperwork I create is a Running Info sheet that lists every single entrance and exit of an actor.  With it, I have columns of the timing from the start of the show (only have to keep one stopwatch running), the script page, the place (UR Door, etc), and if the actor is carrying a prop.  I also include a note upon exit if the actor needs to make a quickchange.  In this, I also list all major set changes, prop moves by crew, etc  Gets to be quite an extensive piece of paperwork to upkeep, but eventually you can glean LOTS of info from one piece, especially lots of timings for things you never knew you wanted.  Anyway, but from that you can glean specific entrances and exits of props.

I can email examples to those who ask.

As for the preset, I prefer the kind that requires a checkmark for every single piece during preset, so you don't miss something you swore you set already...

Erin

Erin,
I know this is a long shot--it has been so long since you posted this--but I am new to stage management and have been unable to find a sample document like the one you described, with EVERYTHING in one place. If you could email me an example I would be very grateful. I cannot figure out how to email you via your profile, but my email address should be listed in mine.
Thank you,
Debra

smejs

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Re: FORMS: Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #11 on: Sep 19, 2014, 04:48 pm »
I just sent you a PM with my email address, since I couldn't tell yours and couldn't quickly see if I could add a document through PM.

I'm also unsure if you're asking about the preset document or the running info, so just let me know. Thanks and good luck!

loebtmc

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Re: FORMS: Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #12 on: Sep 19, 2014, 08:16 pm »
dlenik - have you checked through our rather massive collection of forms? There are all kinds of great examples, and you can find one that matches the way your brain works and adjust it to your needs accordingly -

PSMKay

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Re: FORMS: Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #13 on: Sep 19, 2014, 09:59 pm »
New members who have lurked for a long time without registering often miss the Forms section as it isn't visible to unregistered people.

smejs

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Re: FORMS: Prop tracking for a large show
« Reply #14 on: Sep 20, 2014, 09:53 am »
Also, since I was quoted from 2006, I thought I'd update my answer!

The Running Info sheet is essentially a theatrical version of opera's who/what/where paperwork, using script pages and a running stopwatch for the "when" part. And as for the preset checklist, I had mentioned previously about having a checkmark place for each prop (and set/costume - I still like to catch it all on one sheet for stage management). Well, now I'm into using a clean preset list, placing it in a sheet protector and checking off THAT each night, then wiping off, rather than a sheet full of days/columns of checkmarks.

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