PDA

View Full Version : Help Me Theater People! What do you call...



Kitty Pryde
07-30-2008, 01:20 AM
a big piece of scenery built with a wooden frame, on a stage during a play? For instance, a big prop thing that looks like a tree and allows an actor to climb it, or a big fake boulder that an actor can stand on. Scenery, set piece, prop, stage decoration? I know it's not a 'flat,' because flats are flat, but the object I'm thinking of is not. What's the official name and/or what would I call it for ease of narration?

For instance: "Main Character came around the corner to see a large {SOMETHING} made of lumber and metal brackets lying face down on the stage. She could hear someone groaning beneath it." or "They grunted as they strained to lift the {SOMETHING} off of the unlucky soul trapped beneath it." or "In the intermission, stage techs wrangled the heavy {SOMETHINGS} into position for the second act."

ETA: I'm not writing a play. I'm writing a novel with scenes taking place at a theater-on stage, back stage, front of the house, etc.

I tried wikipedia, google, and a manual for theater techs, but I had no luck. Thanks in advance! I'm sort of flying by the seat of pants writing these theater scenes for my WIP, and we'll see how it goes.

maggi
07-30-2008, 04:00 AM
Hi Kitty - To my knowledge they are just called props.
All the best.

Mandy-Jane
07-30-2008, 04:03 AM
Yeah I'm with maggi. It's a prop. Or you could just call it a set.

John Paton
07-30-2008, 04:08 AM
I've acted, directed and produced over a hundred plays and seen many others.

A prop is normally something an actor can carry. It is short for property.

I don't think the term prop is applicable in this instance as an actor would have difficulty carrying it. Think a gun or a knife or even food on a plate. These are normally regarded as props.

I would class your object under the generic term of scenery. Is it movable ?? It should be mounted on castors for easy removal/placement.

I wouldn't bother too much with a detailed explanation of the object - just mention the actor walks around or over or under a large tree and let the Director/Scenery Dept sort it out.

Hope this helps ;)

alleycat
07-30-2008, 04:09 AM
Small props are sometimes called "hand props", while larger props are called "stage props".

As you mentioned, some of what you're describing could just be called scenery, rather than a prop.

ETA: I was typing as John was posting. I didn't mean to duplicate his answer. I agree that "scenery" would be the best term to use for some of the things you described.

Chumplet
07-30-2008, 04:09 AM
Of course, you can just say the person was groaning under a big fiberglass tree.

WriteKnight
07-30-2008, 04:49 AM
Scenery, set piece, or "UNIT" as in "Go and move the stair unit..." or "Go tell them the castle wall unit has to be painted grey..." The large fibreglass boulder is called THE LARGE FIBERGLASS BOULDER.

Kitty Pryde
07-30-2008, 06:48 AM
I've acted, directed and produced over a hundred plays and seen many others.

A prop is normally something an actor can carry. It is short for property.

I don't think the term prop is applicable in this instance as an actor would have difficulty carrying it. Think a gun or a knife or even food on a plate. These are normally regarded as props.

I would class your object under the generic term of scenery. Is it movable ?? It should be mounted on castors for easy removal/placement.

I wouldn't bother too much with a detailed explanation of the object - just mention the actor walks around or over or under a large tree and let the Director/Scenery Dept sort it out.

Hope this helps ;)

Oh sorry! I was not specific. I am writing a novel, and some of the scenes take place in and around a theater-onstage, backstage, etc. I'm not writing an actual play. Big unwieldy pieces of scenery are of interest because one of them falls over on some people. Sabotage, people! But will our plucky heroine find out in time? etc.

DeeCaudill
07-30-2008, 06:54 PM
Are you talking about a flat? From the Dictionary of the Performing Arts:


A large, portable vertical panel, constructed of canvas stretched over a light wooden frame and appropriately painted, that becomes part of the set when placed on the stage.

If you're going to be writing about a play, it might be worth borrowing a book from your local library about stagecraft (Dewey 792 or 796)

RAMHALite
07-30-2008, 08:24 PM
Oh sorry! I was not specific. I am writing a novel, and some of the scenes take place in and around a theater-onstage, backstage, etc. I'm not writing an actual play. Big unwieldy pieces of scenery are of interest because one of them falls over on some people. Sabotage, people! But will our plucky heroine find out in time? etc.

The perfect thing to fall on your stage people is a periactoid. This is a piece of scenery in the form of a moveable tower that can be rotated to substitute for as many as three flats. Each side of the periactoid is painted canvas stretched over a frame. It is built with casters on the bottom. Stage crews love them for ease of scene change. If the frame is thick enough, it can really clobber somebody.

--RAMHALite

Kitty Pryde
07-30-2008, 11:39 PM
Are you talking about a flat? From the Dictionary of the Performing Arts:



If you're going to be writing about a play, it might be worth borrowing a book from your local library about stagecraft (Dewey 792 or 796)

Nah, it's not a flat. It's something more substantial and three-dimensional. I looked in a book that described platforms, flats, stairs, rakes, and miscellaneous "structures." I just didn't know if there was a word for those miscellaneous structures. Maybe it would be a platform if it is meant to support weight?


The perfect thing to fall on your stage people is a periactoid. This is a piece of scenery in the form of a moveable tower that can be rotated to substitute for as many as three flats. Each side of the periactoid is painted canvas stretched over a frame. It is built with casters on the bottom. Stage crews love them for ease of scene change. If the frame is thick enough, it can really clobber somebody.



That's a ten dollar word. Sounds dangerous!

So we have:

set
scenery
stage prop
set piece
unit
periactoid

Any other ideas?

RAMHALite
07-31-2008, 12:22 AM
Ten dollar word? Then feel free to use it just for the hard cover edition.

--RAMHALite