A Show's Journey: Research, Research, Research

Jennifer Butler

The production staff and the actors are the ones who are known to bring the show to life. They are usually involved with the show from the start. But theater is so much more than that. Theater and shows are also about the little people that you meet along the way. The ones who help out your production in small ways and have no idea that they have helped. In part 2 of the series of those who help bring a show to life, I am going to introduce you to them. They are the people who work at the thrift store, the library, or at another community theater.  

I was the prop designer as well as the public relations person for the last show that I was involved in. This meant that I went to thrift store after thrift store to find the perfect 1922 British tea pot because I needed several for this one show. I want to include the people who work at the thrift store as part of this blog. They don’t know how much it meant to me when I found the perfect teapot at their store and they didn’t seem to judge my excitement when I discovered it. Though they are a small part of this show’s theatrical journey, they are nonetheless involved because they sold me the tea pot.

Then there is that friend of a friend who is willing to lend you the perfect table for the set and those who lend us costumes and props from other theaters because they have what we need. These people are important because they understand that there isn’t a lot of money in the Community Theater budget and we try to borrow before we buy. They too are a part of the show’s journey, and in turn some day we may end up being a part of their show’s journey because we would do the same for them.

And let’s not forget about librarians from the local library, who go out of their way to gather books for you about medieval holidays because it's July and you're getting a head start on your November show that is set on Christmas Eve, in France, 1183. An era that I know nothing about but am always excited to learn about.

These people do not realize how helpful they are with getting my production off the ground. Visiting these places are a great time to start up conversations about the show and the theater itself because you never know who likes theater. They may even want to come see the production to see how things turned out.