There was a lot of laughter in class this week. As soon as we arrived, we were given a challenge: suppose we had built the props for an opera, and during the rehearsal period (otherwise known as the last minute) the director wanted us to make modifications. For Prop Supervisor Cindy Felice, this comes as no surprise. Sometimes the lights at the set change the colors of the props and they need to be repainted. Or a prop can be too heavy for a singer to carry comfortably. Or say, the anvils in Il Trovatore don’t clang properly. Or the director simply changes her/his mind at the last minute and requests small--or significant—changes.
We students were given lists of actual modifications that Cindy and her department had to execute in previous operas. My table was given this scenario:
The pots of flowers need to appear more wilted & dead, as if Figaro landed on them when he jumped from the window. Please make them more comic.
Our teacher Alexis had provided us with props that we could modify and grapple with to resolve our various problems. Our group grabbed a bunch of plastic flowers, leaves, and baskets that we then crushed and discolored to make them appear as if someone had jumped into them from above. [We knew this was a trick question, however, because Figaro did not land on them, he just covered for Cherubino.] We added a real shoe into the mix for humorous effect, and voilà, our prop was ready.
The rest of the class also came up with fun and creative solutions to their challenges, amidst much laughter and delight.