Friday, October 4, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Properties Design for Man of La Mancha

Helmets and Horseheads

Gathering properties for a production often involves lots and lots of thrift store shopping. With Man of La Mancha it's hard to find horse heads, golden helmets, and broken lances in a thrift store, so almost everything that appears onstage had to be built. We built shields, rakes, lances, gauntlets, and much, much more.

I spent several evenings working on The Golden Helmet of Mambrino and the horse and donkey heads. The helmet is cardboard and papier mache with lots and lots of acrylic paint. The acrylic paint creates a flexible plastic shell. The hat got severely dented during a fight on stage and popped right back into place at intermission!
-Lara Toner

Balloon inflated to the size of Rick Roemer's head? Check. Cardboard circle with wedge removed to create a "shaving basin"? Check.
Can you see it?

Papier mache!

After 3 coats of newspaper the balloon is removed.
The helmet is base coated in gold acrylic paint, then sponged with several different metallic shades to create depth.

Almost done! The hat needed drying time between each coat of papier mache and paint.
Rick Roemer as Don Quixote de la Mancha.
The horse and donkey heads started out as felt hats, a wire frame from a large bell ornament, and baskets. They were covered with hand-sewn burlap and fabric. The ears are a floral mesh with hand-sewn moss.
The bases of the donkey and horse.

Base coating of fabric and ear frames.
First dress rehearsal. They still need moss, manes, eyes, and lots of burlap fringe to hide the human heads.
Finished donkey head hanging backstage.

Finished horse head.