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Giving them Props: Drums in Othello

We’re sure you’ve noticed that when you go to plays, the actors always seem to be holding things, exchanging things, fighting over things, fighting with things, or even, sometimes, hitting the things themselves. Props are the unsung heroes of theatre—they help to establish the world of the play and for whatever the actors are going to do, props help give the actors something to do it with. But you hardly ever hear about all the work that goes into acquiring, building, maintaining, and perfecting those props, and we think it’s time to give our audiences a sneak-peak into just some of what is coming from our Props Department. It is time to give our Props Department, well, props.

For example, take a look at some of the work that went into the making of the drums for our production of Othello.


Drums for Othello 
Photos and descriptions courtesy of our Leads Prop Artisan, Chris Young.

First, we get the barrels from James T. Warring—a family run business in Maryland that we first started working with when we did Troilus and Cressida back in ’92: (our go-to place for barrels).

 Eric sent research to the designer and  from that the decision was made as to what the drums would look like:

barrel research

Just off the truck—these are used,  reconditioned barrels (cheaper than new):


After getting them off the truck, we had to put them into the spray booth to be cleaned and primed:


Eric Hammesfahr, Props Painter/Sculptor

The tan 30 gal drum is primer only, but the other barrels have the first rust coat:


To get the runny rust look, the paint staff used a fairly wet technique—the insides of the barrel are kept clean so they will reflect the light of the fire effects:


Eric Hammesfahr, Props Painter/Sculptor




Eric Hammesfahr, Props Painter/Sculptor (left) and Kelly Rice, Scenic Painter (right)


Kelly Rice, Scenic Painter









Here we are, discussing the final steps of the project:


Eric Hammesfahr, Props Painter/Sculptor (background) and Jose Ortiz, Scenic Artist (foreground)

What always happens to the research:



If you would like to see these drums come to life onstage, Othello is showing at Sidney Harman Hall from February 23 to March 27.

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