The Drunkards was my first breakaway from the student theatre, and my first foray into sourcing a ludicrous amount of set pieces and props...
"What do you think is the 'beast' of this production?"
It's a question I've since learned to lead with in my initial meetings with directors; of all the elements I'm responsible for as a stage manager, which one is going to require the most of my attention?
Every show is different, and little did I know the 'beast' of The Drunkards would be sourcing and overseeing the use of a huge chalkboard and easel, a bar cart, 2 bar tables, 4 bar stools, 2 card tables, 6 dining chairs, a bar, a historically accurate 1940's wheelchair, dozens and dozens of alcohol vessels and a stuffed cat.
You can imagine what a shock to the system this was, considering my main point of reference for stage management was The Bacchae, for which set and prop were almost entirely absent (the 'beast' of The Bacchae was managing such a massive cast, which you can read about here).
At this stage of my career, however, instead of asking about the 'beast', the question I focused on when I first met with the producer was "What is the show about?" which was met with the perhaps equally shocking response "The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II."
With the guidance and assistance of our amazing set and costume designer Rebecca Hurst, several trips to various prop warehouses and one cast member's serendipitous acquisition of an insurance-loaned four wheel drive during the rehearsal period, we collected everything in our long laundry list.
The process of each show involved setting up the easel, bar cart and several small props for the prologue, during which I would throw dozens of polystyrene 'atoms' at the Scientist from side of stage. This was followed by a swift 'all hands on deck' interval to bump these out and bump in in the furniture for the main act, complete with full bar set dressings (cocktail shakers, many bottles of liquid, glasses, olives, ashtrays, cigarettes).
I came out the other side of The Drunkards with a wealth of new knowledge and experience in sourcing, co-ordinating and risk managing props and set, and probably the biggest muscles I've ever had.
Presented by Golden Fleece Theatre, The Drunkards was performed as part of the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival season from Sep 17-21, 2019.
Full details can be found on the Golden Fleece website by clicking the Find Out More button below!
Images courtesy of Tim Smith Photography