Show artwork for Meet Props Maker Colin Penn
Colin Penn photo by Brett Walker
Keep us on stage

You make the show go on

Meet Props Maker Colin Penn

Find out more about the people who make MTC so special.

Read Colin's MTC story below.

I do the strings and the mirrors that make it all work! I’ve been making props for MTC for over 35 years. I apprenticed as a cabinet maker, and my first fulltime job was building sets in the old Ferrars Street premises in the late 1970s. I make something different every day. It could be a chair, a table, fake limbs or a tree. It could be anything. Our job is to make stage props that work, and that can last the run of a production; and also to be able to fix them. They have to be safe and work for the actors.

For 2009’s Realism, we made a coffin that had to collapse to reveal that the body had disappeared at just the right moment. It took around 15 attempts to make that work. Creating the full, double-storey Home, I’m Darling house was a recent highlight. We don’t make them often. The challenge was working out how all the fittings worked in the 1950s. Even when we made it we didn’t know how the hinges worked! But you feel proud when you see the finished set put together.

I love working with the people I work with. I like my job. That’s your goal in life: come to work, do your job, enjoy it. And do it with quality. Sometimes it’s stressful, but the job itself is fabulous. We’ve just got to put the show on.


Paws in Production

Colin and Ruby Brett Walker 2020 1

MTC is dog-friendly workplace. Colin’s dog Ruby comes with him to work every day (and before her, Lady and Princess). Each new cast has their photo taken with Colin’s dog. ‘Dogs are a big part of my life. It’s a real honour to be able to take your dog to work with you. The actors love it. One of the best things I’ve heard said is “I’ve been missing my dog so much and there’s a dog here and I feel so much better.” When Miriam Margoyles was rehearsing for Lady in the Van, for instance, she would always have 10 minutes to pet and play with Ruby before the rehearsal day started.’


Keep us on stage

Only through donations and private support will the Company return to a position of strength to create work for the hundreds of creative professionals whose livelihoods depend on us every year.

Published on 3 May 2021

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