The school play is a rite of passage for any thespian serious about their craft. This is often the first place where children learn about stagecraft; they learn what an audition is, they learn how blocking works, they learn about making props, handling lights and sound and they learn how to direct and produce. Good theatre departments let the children take turns both on and off stage so that by the time they leave school, all the children would have received some exposure in all aspects of theatre.
Props are among the costliest things in a play, in addition to costumes. Most of the time, children end up making them on their own but here are some fun ideas to try out.
Depending on the kind of play that is being performed, extreme landscapes are a great way to contrast the characters and the background. For instance, characters in colourful clothes will stand out in stark contrast against a burnt out background and you can easily get the charred look of a burnt out landscape through a store that sells special ash FX for TV. A desert is also a great environment that can be recreated easily. There can be cardboard cut outs of sand dunes in the back of the stage with yellow lights on throughout the play to mimic the harsh sunlight. Even an arctic landscape with drifts and gales would look good.
A Recycled Set
Apart from fake snow effects, what else would look super cool on a stage? You could gather all the recyclable items that are thrown out of houses and then use them to make props. Make furniture out of 1l plastic drink bottles. Use polythene bags to make curtains by crushing it into a long rope, knotting it and then tying it with other similarly tied plastic bags. Cardboard, glass bottles, trash bags, plastic, polythene and other items can all be used to create any and all props on stage. The only things that would require metal or new wood are stands or staircases that need to hold students’ weight. Everything else can be made of recyclable materials.
Some productions go over the top with their costumes and sets. Others are minimalistic to a fault. The perfect balance is a symbolic set where one or two simple props will represent an entire scene. A living room will be symbolised by a stand and a vase; a forest will be represented by one tree. Realistic sets make use of all the details including putting food and drink on sets. Symbolic sets do not require that much work.