They're top of the props at Abbey Theatre
PUBLISHED: 10:00 06 October 2016
Often unheralded, the props team at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans have risen to the challenge of the next Company of Ten production, London Wall.
For the John Van Druten play, which opens in the Studio tomorrow (7) is set in a solicitor’s office in the 1930s and focuses on the lives and loves of working women.
In once instance, new girl Pat Milligan, played by Cate Brooks, has to learn how to sew and bind a legal document with narrow green ribbon. The props department produced one from the 1970s, demonstrating that they had barely changed in 40 years.
Also on the set is an old-fashioned switchboard and two Bakelite telephones, borrowed from the Milton Keynes Museum. Director Tina Swain explained: “Unfortunately we were unable to source a Banda machine, originally used in the play. That was a less sophisticated version of the Roneo, used to run off copies of documents.
“We have had to make do with a sound effect to represent the machine running offstage. Even if we had the Banda, and it still worked, we would have used a sound effect, as it would have been far too noisy to use onstage.”
“We did not show 1930s style typewriters either as they would have been in the typing pool next door. That will be a sound effect as well.”
For the rest of the props, various Company of Ten members produced family heirlooms, such as inkwells, a wooden ruler, and in Tina’s case, an authentic 1930s desk calendar. More specifically, the play mentions and requires a magazine called The Play Pictorial.
Tina recalled: “Several years ago someone donated a pile of old theatre magazines, some of which were 1930s originals of The Play Pictorial. We don’t have the exact issue referred to in the script, but we have one very similar, dated 1931.”
London Wall can be seen at 8pm tomorrow and Saturday (7/8) and from next Tuesday, October 11, until Saturday, October 15. There will also be a matinee at 2.30pm this Sunday (9)
To book tickets click here or call the box office on 01727 857861.