Ways Theatre Props Can Enhance Your Performance

Girl stood with arm out wearing costume and props.

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From chairs to footballs, props are the physical objects used on stage in drama productions. Used correctly, they can add to your performance in a unique and profound way, with audience members thinking about your performance long after it’s finished. There are certain ways you can make use of props to ensure you get the most out of them.

Your props can be either real or symbolic

  • Props in drama can be used as either literal items, such as a characters putting their keys on a table, or they can be symbolic- metaphors used to indicate something else.
  • Using literal props, and actions to go with them, create a visceral quality. This makes the plot spring to life, and can emphasise important movements.
  • By using props symbolically, you can create powerful and profound images in the heads of you audience members. For example, if you wanted to demonstrate the separation of two people, a knife could be used to solemnly cut the air. You could also have a picture of the two characters torn apart.

Props can help to pace your story

Props can be used to have a powerful impact on what characters are saying or doing, but these ‘silver-bullet’ props can only be used once to maintain their importance. You will have to think carefully about where to use important props that move the story forward or add a new level.

Like a hook in music, props can be used to create a memorable drama sequence, engaging the audience and igniting the imagination. This helps to immerse the audience in the universe of your story, making even the most fantastical of settings come closer to being reality.

Selling your story with props

If your performance involves an element of interacting with the audience, you can use props in drama to sell your story to them, giving them a physical metaphor to really involve them in your vision. There is an example involving a marble, a baseball and a beach ball when talking about financial policies. Firstly, ask an audience member to keep a marble in their pocket, telling them how easy it would be to forget it. Next, you ask your audience member to keep a baseball in their pocket, remarking how much more difficult it is to forget it. Finally, the audience member is asked to put the beach ball in their pocket, which they can’t.

This is where the metaphorical leap happens. By taking out the financial policy early, it would be like the marble, bought somewhat later, it would be like the baseball, noticeable but able to be carried. If left too late you wouldn’t be able to carry it. By involving the audience with symbolic prop use, the story becomes a lot more believable, and will stay with the audience for a long time.