How to make props for a school play

How to make props for a school play

Watching your child perform in a school play is an exciting experience for most parents. Engaged in the young actors’ lines and movements, we don’t give much thought to the backdrops and stage sets that complement their performance.

But these items play an important role in creating a believable setting that brings each character to life in a magical way. Many schools have little money for buying needed supplies, so how can the play director manage to arrange the stage for a school performance?

  1. Ask for help. Prepare a flier to go home with the kids that will invite parents or grandparents to get involved. Many talented or aspiring electricians, carpenters, artists, and set designers can be found in the collective families of children involved in a school play. Organize a meeting for those who express interest and explain what is needed. For those who quality with appropriate experience, credentials, or know-how, delegate tasks with a timeline so everyone knows what to do.
  2. Train the students. Simple props like a cardboard castle or poster board signs can be made by the students themselves. Designing, drawing, painting, cutting, and pasting are tasks that many students will find enjoyable, especially those who want to be involved with the play but dread walking across the stage and performing in front of a public audience. Professional people who offer to help may be able to utilize student assistants who can do things like hold ladders, hand nails, and find lost or forgotten tools.
  3. Call for donations. For stage furnishings, contact local thrift shops to see if they will donate used items that no longer work. They can earn a tax deduction and show community support by donating non-working telephones and televisions, and tables that need to be propped as stage furniture (as long as these items don’t pose a safety hazard to the actors). You can also telephone parents or make an announcement in the school newsletter indicating the props that are needed. Post a new update each month so duplicate items will not be received.
  4. Contact local businesses. Merchants and vendors may be willing to make a cash donation or provide goods as a way of supporting the school play. Send a polite letter or make personal phone calls. Explain which props are needed and how much they may cost according to the drama budget. You may be able to fund part or all of the needed supplies through donations like these.
  5. Improvise. Instead of using real furniture, paint tables, chairs, or even a sofa on a poster board backdrop. Have students talk about furnishings that the audience can’t see:

Someone’s knocking. Will you open the door?

I’m putting the baby to bed now.

Actions like these can be implicated for offstage, removing the need for appropriate fixtures.

Organizing setting props for a play is a job, but it is fun, too. Get everyone involved in making the play a success by donating, making, or soliciting needed furnishings that you can use from one year to the next.

Organizing setting props

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