Show artwork for The wonderful world of props

The wonderful world of props

When you take your seat in the theatre and the lights go down, a new world opens in front of you. Depending on the play, you could find yourself in the present day or a hundred years ago; in the same city or halfway around the world; in reality or somewhere completely unknown. There’s a great deal of effort that goes into creating that world, and making the audience believe it. The sets and costumes are of course a key part of this, but sometimes it’s the tiniest details – the things that almost go unnoticed – that make the difference between an audience willingly suspending belief and going on a journey, or staying firmly grounded in their seats.

Sometimes in the background and other times at the centre of the action, props are a vital part of every production. From the salt and pepper shakers on the sideboard to the swords in a duel, each has an important part to play. Depending on the prop itself and the era it needs to represent, a prop could have been bought at the supermarket, found in an antique shop, sourced online, bought at auction, or made in-house by our fantastic props team. Over the years, we’ve accumulated quite an assortment, which can now be found in the props storeroom at MTC HQ, all grouped together by type.

We have suitcases…


…vintage beer…


…regal seats …


… and airplane seats …


… spare change …


… a pixelated bike (who doesn’t want one of these) …


… and even a cow or two…


While the majority of props are safely tucked away in the store room, some of them can be found around the building, being well used and loved by staff. For example, remember the stunning red lips-shaped couch from Rockabye?

photo: Jeff Busby

It now lives in the Level One foyer at HQ.


What about the table from August: Osage County?

photo: Jeff Busby

The ‘fish bitch table’, as it is lovingly referred to – due to the line ‘Eat the fish, bitch!’ which is shouted by Barbara (Jane Menelaus) to her mother Violet (Robyn Nevin) during a dinner scene – now lives in our Development department, and the Marketing, Publicity, Sponsorship and Philanthropy teams often sit here for lunch. Not a lot of fish is eaten though.


What props do you remember most from your visits to the theatre? Let us know and we’ll see if we can find them and share their story.

Published on 17 February 2012