When you produce theater you end up holding onto the oddest things. Here is a picture of an old hair dryer from a beauty salon. BAT has had this in storage for a number of years. It has been in the way too many times to count. It survived prop room purges a few times. We always thought it was too unique to get rid of. (I don’t know if you can see it, but it even has a build-in ashtray.)
Like all theaters, BAT has limited storage. As a smaller theater, BAT’s storage is smaller than many other theaters. When in need, BAT borrows props from other theaters including the Seattle Opera. To walk through the Opera’s prop shop is to overload on Antique Road Show. They too hold on to the old and unique. They just have the room to hold on to a whole lot more than BAT can.
If you want to help, BAT collects, among other things, cell phones. They change every few years. Watch TV and notice the cell phones they use. No iPhones in a show set in 2002. No Motorola Razors in a show set in 2014.
Even land lines have changed. Now, it is very hard to even find a dial phone. They all have push buttons, even in the thrift shops. BAT has been on the lookout for a candlestick phone, with a dial or maybe before dials, for years. (Let me know if you have a phone to donate.)
Don’t get me started on computer monitors or TVs. After years of slow change, now they are all flat screens. Not so good for a show set in 1990. Luckily, BAT scored a few of each of the older monitors and TVs before they too disappeared.
Holding onto props is always a battle between the space you have and what you think will be too hard to find or make when you need it. (If you have both money and time, you can find anything you need. Theater, typically, does not has enough of either.)
When you come see “Out of Sterno,” smile at the salon chair as it has its time on stage. By the end of October, it will be back in storage, waiting, maybe years, for a chance to be a star once more.