Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog

March 21, 2012, 9:05 am
Filed under: interview, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Mrs. Whitney


Vase from Mrs. Whitney

How long have you worked with MRT and do you have a favorite production that you have been involved in so far?

This is my third season as Prop Manager with MRT. It is very difficult to choose one show that has been my favorite because every show has its own unique challenges, frustrations, and pleasures. One of my favorite parts of my job is the fact that every show is a new story, a new set, and new props to build and work with.

What have been some of the unique challenges involved in putting together the props for Mrs. Whitney?

Two unique challenges in working on Mrs. Whitney have been a part of the play where a drinking glass is shattered and another part of the play where a gun shoots a vase. We have been spending a lot of time working on what it will take to make these look realistic and to get the audience reaction that we desire. Sound will have a major role making these special effects really pop. The sounds will be amplified on the speakers.

What materials are these things made of and how do you safely break them?

Various companies sell things that are called “breakables” and are made to break easily. Sometimes these are the best option but these also have some major downsides. First off, they can be very expensive and hard to ship because they are made to break, so they can only be shipped ground. Secondly, most of these are made of “sugar glass,” a material that is sensitive to humidity and cannot hold liquid. Therefore, this material wouldn’t work for the drinking glass. What we will end up doing is casting molds of the glasses ourselves with a material called “isomalt.” This material is similar to sugar glass because it will break safely but it will also be able to hold liquid without deteriorating. For the vase we will buy a bisque ceramic vase, meaning that it has been heated but it has not been fully fused yet. This makes it so that the vase will still hold its shape but when it breaks it will not have any dangerous jagged edges.

How will the vase be broken? The gun isn’t real is it?

The gun is not real! The barrel of the gun has been blocked off and it does not actually fire anything. What will most likely end up happening is that we will set up a hammer on a spring behind the vase or we might actually have someone standing backstage who will knock the vase over from behind. The hardest part will be coordinating the actions of the actors, the sounds, and the special effects.


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