Stage properties are an often-ignored aspect of theatrical productions, in part because their usage is meant to be seamlessly integrated into the performance instead of a focal point for the audience. However, a skillfully used prop can augment the action, just as a malfunctioning prop can destroy the illusion of the scene. The essays in 'Theatre Symposium: Volume 18' approach the subject of stage props from many angles, and include examinations of props in contemporary and historical productions, explorations of the cultural significance of specific props, and arguments about the nature of the prop itself. The contributors illuminate many aspects of this largely ignored yet crucial part of the theatre. Kyna Hamill looks at props as a means to mark social status. Christine Woodworth addresses the challenges presented by using blood onstage, while Andrew Sofer discusses the use of prop corpses on the Shakespearean stage. Andrew Kimbrough moves from an examination of actors' use of props to a consideration of audience response to performance. Other essays investigate specific objects or productions, and introduce provocative and original perspectives to the growing discussion about stage properties.
J.K. Curry is Associate Professor of Theatre History at Wake Forest University and the author of John Guare: A Research and Production Sourcebook and Nineteenth-Century American Women Theatre Managers.