Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Never be Afraid to Ask...Malt Glasses

When I was working in central Pennsylvania, props shopping was much more difficult than it is in Chicago. Shopping selections were limited, some of the most basic stores were an hour away, and there were very few other theatres in the area that I could count on as sources.
On top of all this, we had incredibly short rehearsal periods. If I knew of an unusual prop ahead of time I could plan to order it online and have it delivered,but if something was added late in the process I was often left scrambling. Unfortunately this happened quite a bit, both because I was a new props master and was not as skilled at predicting what might come up, and because, with shows rehearsing for a maximum of three weeks, anything added after the first week of rehearsal was already cutting it close.
One such scrambling incident involved old fashioned malt glasses. The director decided they would be just the thing he needed about 5 days before the show opened. I searched all of my usual sources and called everyone I could think of, but I was getting nowhere. Then one night, after coming home from work, I was sitting watching TV and happened to see a Red Robin commercial (my coworkers and I went to the nearby Red Robin pretty regularly), and it dawned on me that Red Robin serves their shakes in the exact old fashioned malt glasses I needed.
The next day I drove to the Red Robin in the early afternoon (when asking for something at a restaurant always try to go during a downtime, after the lunch rush and before the dinner crowd). I asked to see a manager, explained that I needed the glasses for our production and asked if it would be at all possible to purchase four of them. He went into the back, brought out a box of glasses and offered to sell them to me for $5 a piece. Done! It was the first time I had used this method, but is the source of a rule I now use regularly when brainstorming sources; "Remember, places that sell things are not the only places where you can buy things".

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