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Props: I Draw, I Anticipate, I Invent

props
By Aurelie Gandilhon

Editors Note: Aurelie writes in her native language of French. English translation below.

Je dessine, j’invente, j’anticipe, j’imagine et je dĂ©lire. Je coupe, je ponce, je peint, j’installe, j’expĂ©rimente et je fabrique les souhaits.

J’ornemente, je dĂ©core, j’éclaire et je dĂ©guise la scĂšne de mes babioles.

Je customise et donne apparence nouvelle aux objets; Je dois ĂȘtre Ă  l’écoute des derniĂšres technologies et des tendances. Je scrute les artistes aux talents multiples et les innovateurs. Ma meilleure arme est la curiositĂ©. Je n’en n’oublie pas les techniques de fabrications traditionnelles qui s’avĂšrent toujours les plus efïŹcaces. Mes qualitĂ©s indispensables sont l’adaptabilitĂ© et l’action. Mes richesses sont mes Ă©quipiers. Je farfouille, j’achĂšte, je cherche et parfois ne trouve pas. Je dois donc rĂ©ïŹ‚Ă©chir sous un autre angle pour trouver les solutions. J’organise, je classe, je note. Mon atelier dois ĂȘtre toujours en ordre, prĂȘt Ă  accueillir un accessoire brisĂ©. Telle une salle d’opĂ©ration, chaque outil et soigneusement prĂ©parĂ©. Une retouche peinture, un boulon Ă  serrer, pas une minute Ă  perdre, la scĂšne n’attend pas, les rĂ©pĂ©titions ont dĂ©jĂ  commencĂ©es. Je dĂ©jeune Ă  peine. Du matin au soir, je coure aprĂšs les minutes, les infos, les derniĂšres nouvelles sur les notes du metteur en scĂšne. Je tente en mĂȘme temps de mettre la main sur ces petites piĂšces mĂ©talliques qu’on ne trouve qu’au niveau 3, escalier, je monte, je descend. Quoi ! ascenseur, pas le temps d’attendre. J’adore arriver tĂŽt le matin, pousser la porte du thĂ©Ăątre, puis de mon atelier et me retrouver seule face Ă  mes chers accessoires. Il n’y a pas encore de bruit dans les loges ou les coulisses. Moment de calme avant l’arrivĂ©e des Ă©quipes, moment de rĂ©ïŹ‚exion et de planiïŹcation du travail. A cet instant, le thĂ©Ăątre tout entier vous dĂ©voile ses secrets. Je voyage aussi, de pays en pays. Je rencontre, partage et apprends.

Je dĂ©couvre les merveilles du monde au travers des boutiques, des quartiers et des artisans que je visite Ă  la recherche de trĂ©sors. Je communique, je parle, je gesticule, dessine et mime dans les cas les plus extrĂȘmes. Je dois garder mon calme et mon sang froid pour assurer ma mission. Je montre, j’explique. Demandez moi la lune, un avion ou une pĂąquerette, je ne dirais jamais non, car tout est rĂ©alisable. Je nĂ©gocie, tente de convaincre, donne mon avis. Dans le noir des coulisses, je deviens aussi psychologue, oreille alerte et attentive aux artistes angoissĂ©s. J’observe et me prĂ©pare Ă  intervenir. Sur le « qui vive » . Je m’assure que la petite piĂšce mĂ©tallique trouvĂ©e au niveau 3 ne s’est pas brisĂ©e par un geste malheureux, une chute malencontreuse. J’écoute religieusement chaque « TOP » qui m’est annoncĂ© dans mon casque. Je dĂ©place, je replace et remplace. Certains jours sont bĂ©nis, les commandes arrivent dans des boites en cartons.. c’est un peu NoĂ«l ! Objets mystĂ©rieux que je dĂ©balle comme une enfant pressĂ©e de dĂ©couvrir son nouveau joujou. D’autres jours sont de pures catastrophes. Perdue en ville, sous une pluie diluvienne. Outils qui dĂ©cident de ne plus fonctionner, Ă©quipiers malades, demande d’accessoires en urgence qui s’ajoutent Ă  ma longue liste. Il y a des jours oĂč j’aurais prĂ©fĂ©rĂ©e ĂȘtre artiste funambule. Je suis un camĂ©lĂ©on. Un jour peintre, un autre jour Designer 3D, puis Ă©lectricienne ou menuisiĂšre, soudeur ou couturiĂšre. ScientiïŹque ou GĂ©o trouve tout des produits Epoxy. SpĂ©cialiste en mouvement pour anticiper la marche d’une girafe en bambou, danseur de breakdance pour choisir le revĂȘtement d’un plateau de scĂšne, spĂ©cialiste en instruments de musique Chinoise en Ă©vitant les erreurs de style.

Je suis un couteau Suisse ambulant. Je m’amuse et aime plus que tout ce mĂ©tier aux multiples facettes.

On m’appelle le « Props » Une syllabe sufïŹt, rapide et efïŹcace ,je suis accessoiriste tout simplement.

****

I draw, I invent, I anticipate, I imagine wildly.
I cut, I sand, I paint, I install, I experiment and I make wishes.

I ornament, I decorate, I enlighten and disguise the stage with my trinkets.

I customize and give a new appearance to objects; I must stay on top of the latest technologies and trends. I scrutinize innovators and multi-talented artists.

My best arm is curiosity. I never abandon the traditional manufacturing techniques which always prove to be the most effective.
My essential qualities are adaptability and action.
My riches are my teammates.
I rummage, I buy, I search and sometimes end up empty handed.
So, I have to reconsider from another angle to find the solutions.
I organize, I class, I note.

My workshop must always be orderly, ready to treat a broken stage accessory.
In such an operating room, each tool must be available and carefully prepared.
A touch-up paint, a bolt to turn and with not a minute to lose.
The stage never waits and the rehearsals have already begun.
I barely lunch.

From morning ‘till night, I constantly run behind the time that runs ahead.
Always on the pulse of the news, the latest news on the director’s notes.
At the same time, I try to get my hands on these small metal parts that are only found in a distant part of the building – on level 3. Endless stairs – up and down like a vertical carousel.
What, the elevator?! No time to wait.

I love coming early in the morning and passing through the threshold of the theatre door, then to my studio to find myself alone in front of my dear accessories.

There is still no sound from the dressing rooms nor backstage wings.
A delicious moment of calm before the arrival of the teams – a moment of reflection and planning for the work ahead.

At this moment, the entire theatre reveals its secrets to you.
I also travel from country to country. I meet, share and learn.
I discover the wonders of the world through the shops, neighbourhoods and artisans that I visit in search of treasures. I communicate, I speak, I gesticulate, draw and mime in the most extreme cases.
I have to keep calm and cool to stay on track. I demonstrate, I explain.
Ask me for the moon, an aeroplane or a daisy, I would never say no because everything is achievable.
I negotiate, attempt to convince, give my opinion. In the dark behind the scenes, I also become a psychologist, an alert and attentive ear to anguished artists.

I watch and prepare to intervene – be always on the look-out.
I ensure that that minute metal part found at level 3 wasn’t broken by an abrupt gesture or unfortunate fall. I listen religiously to every cue in my headset. I move, replace and replace. Some days are blessed. The boxes arrive from their destination, sometimes miles from here and the time of choice. It’s a kind of a little Christmas! Mysterious objects that I unpack like a child in a hurry to discover his new toy. Other days are pure disasters. Lost in the city in torrential rain. Tools that decide to stop working, sick teammates, request for last-minute accessories that add to my long list that always seems to get longer no matter how much I accomplish. There are days when I would have preferred to be a tightrope artist. I am a chameleon. One day a painter, another day 3D designer, then electrician or carpenter, welder or seamstress.

Movement specialist who can anticipate the gait of a bamboo giraffe or a breakdancer to select the surface coating of a stage, a specialist in Chinese musical instruments all the while attempting to avoid the “faux pas” of style.

I am a walking Swiss army knife. I have fun and more than anything I love this multi-faceted business. I am quite simply an artisan of stage accessories with all that means to me and to the theatre.

They call me just “Props” and I love the simplicity of that word in face of all that it implies.

 

Also by Aurelie Gandilhon:

Artist’s Block: The Blank Page

What Do You Do For A Living?

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