Props for the Show

Glitter and fake snow dusts the ground and storefronts, huge trees, ornaments, and icebergs are strategically placed across the stage. The props, each standing out on their own, shine when they are put underneath the lights.

Each year, there is a christmas show put on by the arts department which is shown for two nights and a version of it is also put on for the seniors at their senior breakfast. Each show is decorated with props made by the students and the instructor of art club.

Art teacher Elizabeth Colston is the leader for all of the props and decorations for the Christmas show, helping students create everything needed for the arts department’s performance.

“This year, the Art Club had triple the amount of props to make and decorate for the Christmas show. It took about 2 and a half weeks for us to get everything finished,” Colston said. “The first 2 weeks were spent figuring out how to actually produce what was needed and painting. The last couple of days leading up to the show, we worked on finishing touches as well as setting the stage.”

The process for the props is a long one, taking up to multiple weeks to complete everything needed. Colston wants more students and teachers to realize how much actually goes into creating projects like this, since the students need many skills to complete things well and on time.

“There is a lot of problem solving that goes on while making props and backdrops. I think a lot of people think it is an easy and quick process, but the reality is that these things take a lot of time,” Colston said. “The process involves time management, being able to think on your feet, and being flexible and ready to change up what is being done.”

Senior Ivette Calix, Vice President of the art club, spent a lot of her time after school dedicated to creating props for the Christmas show, something she found to be fun and stressful.

“The christmas project was more stressful than it was enjoyable because it was pressed for the time and a lot had to get done. It was not the best, so we had to keep redoing some things that we’ve never done before,” Calix said. “It was fun making it, but it wasn’t fun having all that pressure on making props.”

With all of the hard work that goes into the props, Colston wants people to love what she and her students create. She wants them to recognize that time and effort went into each prop so their show can look good.

“It is always humbling to see something you have put time and effort into being used for others to see,” Colston said. “We put everything into the things we create and it is nice to know that people appreciate what we do.”

While Calix thinks that the art club doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, she doesn’t mind much. She would rather people use and enjoy the props than focus on giving her recognition.

“It’s really nice seeing something you made with your own hands on stage and people using it and people really liking it. It’s just nice to have a lot of appreciation towards something you love. It’s also really nice when everyone has to use it and gives you the appraisal for it because of how hard you worked,” Calix said. “A lot of people don’t know that we did them, but it’s a nice secret knowing that something you made is being used in something so important to the school.”

For Colston, even the seemingly most simple of things can serve as a problem in the creation of props. Props can break, the color could be slightly off, and the angles and measurements need to be exact.

“A lot of time and planning goes into what we make,” Colston said. “We have to make sketches and make sure dimensions are correct before we can start building and cutting. Keeping things straight and even can also be challenging throughout the process, and even when you think everything is correct and finished, you still hit speed bumps. For example, the Gimbels storefront we created was too tall to fit under the doors and we had to cut and redo the top 2 feet of the whole backdrop to make it moveable.”

For Calix, the problems that come with making props, just comes with the job. Even with the issues the art club encounters, Calix is still glad she chose this club and not another one.

“The reason I do this is not only because I’m in the club, but also because I love Christmas shows and everything else that comes with it. The fine arts department in general is my favorite place to be, so I’m just glad to be a part of it in any way, shape, or form,” Calix said. “Instead of being one of the dancers or actors, I’m glad I decided to be an artist in the back.”

Clubs and school departments depend on the art club and Colston for many things, like their events, fundraisers, or productions. While Colston thinks that they get recognized for most of their projects, she wishes every club and department appreciated their work.

“There are projects that we get recognized for as well as projects that I feel we get swept under the rug for. Being recognized is all this club lives for,” Colston said. “We spend countless hours at school everyday for weeks, sometimes months, working on these projects and it is extremely rewarding to hear feedback and getting gratitude for what we do.”