Props to the Abbey Prop Man
This chapter uses the prop stores of the Abbey Theatre as source material. Taking the work of material culture theorists, and with the considerable advantage of insider access and experience, I investigate and decode some of the more cryptic behaviours surrounding props as typically exhibited by their main user groups: the creative team, the audience, and particularly the actors who use them onstage.
In this chapter, I introduce the Abbey prop department and detail some of its characteristics. The Abbey Theatre, uniquely in Ireland, has maintained an ever-growing collection of eclectic objects sourced and made by successive Prop Masters since the 1960s. Each object is attached to a particular play and has literally performed on the Abbey and Peacock stages alongside the greats of Irish theatre. Some (like the Victorian pram used in the premiere production of The Plough and the Stars), become permanently attached to, and associated with, a particular production. Others are theatrical chameleons and are reimagined, refurbished and even re-made to appear in countless productions. But all are part of the history and fabric of the Abbey: a living, working archive of theatrical objects.
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