Sunday, July 25, 2010

Props Mercenary

So I've been thinking I need another project or some sort of side business to provide more steady work (I know I have chronicled my up and down struggles with making a living on this blog). My new plan came out of a friend's need for some unique prop/costume pieces for a show he is directing.
He is directing this show independently as part of a 10 minute play festival at a local storefront theatre. He was given no budget to work with and is spending out of pocket for props and costumes. There is a possibility of prize money if his play wins the festival, but he is really doing this as a way to get his name out as a playwright and out of a love for his art. There are so many people all over the city that are working on projects like this. Actors, directors, and writers all over the city put up shows in rented spaces on little or no budget. They couldn't afford to pay me a good wage to be the full props master on a show and a while back I decided that I needed to start turning down shows like these that couldn't pay me.
My new plan is to be a props mercenary. These productions cannot afford to pay me to do the entire show, and if it is a simple show there is a good chance that members of the company could beg, borrow and steal much of what they need. I would be hiring myself out to work on the unique pieces that take a more experienced hand. These companies may not be able to afford to pay me $500 to prop the entire show, but it may be worth it to pay me $20 to find that one piece no one seems to be able to locate, $30 to recover the cushion on a chair, $40 to put together a fake meal that can be reused night after night. I could pick and choose without the risk of over committing, and I would be able to help friends with their production without feeling pressured to give away my services for free.
Right now this is only an idea, there are still kinks to be worked out, but I am excited about the possibilities. I would love to hear from other theatre professionals. Is a props mercenary a person your theatre might use? What problems to you foresee?

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