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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Props Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0158  Saturday, 30 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Tony Haigh <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Jan 1999 09:58:53 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0151 Props Question

[2]     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Jan 1999 11:15:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0151 Props Question

[3]     From:   Michael Best <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Jan 1999 15:10:06 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0151 Props Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Haigh <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Jan 1999 09:58:53 -0500
Subject: 10.0151 Props Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0151 Props Question

It is my understanding that the term "props" comes from Garrick's
innovative use of small naturalistic items on stage.  In order to
prevent actors stealing these trinkets he had them stamped with
"Property of the Management" hence the modern usage "props."

Has anyone else seen the innovative/interesting production of "Hamlet"
at Actor's Theatre of Louisville?  Set it 50's dress, it has Hamlet's
madness neatly sidetracked by his being addicted to heroin, and later
suffering from withdrawal.  In a much cut production I was glad to see
John Jory had left in Fortinbras, but was somewhat surprised when "Let
the soldiers shoot" became an order to have Horatio executed, leaving an
ebullient, quisling Osric in control of the court.

Cheers,
Tony

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Jan 1999 11:15:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0151 Props Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0151 Props Question

Tom Bishops asks about "props." While the term "properties" is very old
(going back to the late medieval THE CASTLE of PERSEVERANCE), the
shorter props with a specifically theatrical meaning seems to originate
in the 19th cent. according to OED2.

Shakespeare's familiarity with the term "properties" shows up in
Qunice's reference to "a bill of properties" in MND. Hope this
information helps!

Fran Teague

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Best <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Jan 1999 15:10:06 -0800
Subject: 10.0151 Props Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0151 Props Question

Tom Bishop asks:

>Does anybody know whether stage properties (called "properties" in
>Henslowe's accounts) were ever known by the modern name of "props" among
>Renaissance players? I can find no instance of it, but may have
>overlooked something.

A quick check on Chadwyck-Healey's LION database (entering "props" and
"proppes" brought up quite a number of entries, none of which have the
meaning of "stage properties." In the Jacobean period there were 33
"hits," in the Restoration period 21, all of them meaning literal
supports (sometimes crutches) or metaphorical supports (most often to
the king, government, state, or love). "Props and pillars" crops up
quite often.

Out of curiosity I checked "properties," and found several theatrical
references-two entertaining enough to pass on. The first is in Dekker's
The Whore of Babylon (1607), where the introductory stage direction
after the Prologue reads:

"He drawes a Curtaine, discouering Truth in sad abiliments; vncrownd:
her haire disheueld, & sleeping on a Rock: Time (her father) attired
likewise in black and al his properties (as Sithe, Howreglasse and
Wings) of the same Cullor, vsing all meanes to waken Truth, but not
being able to doe it, he sits by her and mourns...."

And Richard Brome's _The Antipodes_ (1640), 3.5, has this speech by one
of the characters:

He has got into our Tyring-house amongst us,
And tane a strict survey of all our properties,
Our statues and our images of Gods; our Planets and our constellations
Our Giants, Monsters, Furies, Beasts, and Bug-Beares,
Our Helmets, Shields, and Vizors, Haires, and Beards,
Our Pastbord March-paines, and our Wooden Fies.

(I've no idea what a wooden fie is).

Michael Best
Department of English, University of Victoria
Coordinating Editor, Internet Shakespeare Editions
<http://web.uvic.ca/shakespeare>
 

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