By Cindi Pree
Most of us know that a lot of work goes into every production in live theatre. In addition to actors, directors, musicians, there is all the action backstage. Here at MBT, much of that backstage work is accomplished by volunteers. They build and haul sets, find or create props, and do laundry. Most do it just for the fun, and some out of their sheer love of the craft.
Happily for MBT, we have volunteers who are so in love with their craft, they go way over the top! As an example, MBT volunteer extraordinaire David Witmer is Chair of our Volunteer Production Support crew. He coordinates lots of volunteer activities that are at the heart of our ability to produce our Rep series. And, in his ‘spare’ time, he takes his personal love of creating props to levels most of the audience never even notices, even if they are close enough to see.
David often creates period-appropriate covers for magazines, such as this Southern Hair used in Steel Magnolias, Summer Rep 2013. No, this is not simply a photo of a magazine from the day! This is David’s own creation.
The brochure David created for Bill Buckley’s auto dealership (Becky’s New Car, Summer Rep 2014) is a perfect example of his over-the-top specificity. He could have easily used ‘filler text’ and no one would have noticed, but this is filled with actual, believable marketing-speak.
When the props list for Last of the Red Hot Lovers (Summer Rep 2014) called for packages of cigarettes, David created these very authentic replicas, right down to that blue seal on the top.
Occasionally, it’s more about adding a bit of whimsy. Check out the faces on the currency created for Summer Rep 2013.
Staff asked him why he puts so much detail and attention into his props, especially when the audience might not notice. David replied, “It’s great fun, and I really enjoy knowing I make staff and actors laugh.” He does indeed, and such moments of laughter are always welcome amid the chaos that is theatre. Next time you watch a Rep performance, especially in the Walton Theatre, take a close look at those props and join us in celebrating our very own Props Wizard!