Good used of stage props and backdrops make a play all the more engaging and interesting. Props make the story come alive.
Just as actors need other actors to interact with so too do they need objects to enhance their performance, after all there is no easier way to act ‘picking up a telephone’ than by picking up a telephone.
Backdrops are similarly important. They can create the scene. Whether the action is taking place in a workhouse in Yorkshire in the twentieth century, or an amphitheatre of Ancient Greece, backdrops allow the actors and the audience to become engaged in the story. Carefully chosen props and meticulously designed backdrops will draw an audience’s attention. Poorly chosen props will serve only to dilute what should be a rousing production.
It’s not uncommon for some plays to be performed without the use of objects. Some of Shakespeare’s plays can be performed with only the actors wearing costumes. This is mostly due to the impact of the dialogue. Without anything else to distract the audience, the dialogues impact is only enhanced.
Some actors believe that props and scenery serve merely as a distraction. They don’t want to worry about colliding with a plastic or cardboard tree when reciting their monologue. I’m sure that many productions have been ruined with actors tripping over unnecessary pieces of furniture! Backdrops and props should always be placed in positions that won’t be hazards to the actors.
There are some stage productions that benefit greatly from inclusion of stage backdrops and props. Fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel should make use of backdrops and props. Setting the scene for a spooky encounter always helps with good use of backdrops. Asking the audience to imagine a dark forest hanging over the characters is far less effective that using a backdrop to set the scene. The foreboding is palpable when placed in front of the audience’s eyes.
However, the use of backdrops and props is not just for the benefit of the audience. The use of props may allow actors to immerse themselves completely in the role – giving the best possible performance and drawing the audience into the story that is unfolding before their eyes.
When staging a play it’s important that you set the scene and deliver the story effectively. Using backdrops and props is one of the easiest, and most effective, ways to do this.