By Aurelie Gandilhon
Aurelie works on props projects around the world. She shares with TheatreArtLife, her top 10 tips on how she gets started on a new project and as a props manager, how she handles running an international team in an unfamiliar city.
Your very first encounter with your new team is a crucial and deciding one. Asking the right questions to the right individual is a huge time-saver. Hence memorize each person, their name, position on the show and their best skills so you know who to go to.
Gather all your technicians and prop team to introduce yourself and to get to know each of them individually. To make communicating and task assignment easier, everyone should share their name, skills and best qualities with the group. Most importantly, ask them which aspect of their job they most enjoy. Such social gathering is the best way to break the ice!
Identify who is the team leader ie. who is most likely your next strongest ally. Remember that nothing great gets done without support and teamwork!
Learn the house rules as well as your colleagues’ contracts’ details and working hours. It is your responsibility to come up with the right schedules and guide-rules so that everyone feels safe and at the right place.
Set-up your workspace with the props team as soon as possible so that they know where to find each tool and every product they need. They should be independent. Establish good working ethic and rules: being on time, tidying up working station, putting tools away once done with them or cleaning up the workshop at the end of the day. Those rules can and should be adapted depending on the country you’re in and various personalities mixed together.
Learn the local language in order to better understand your colleagues. Keep a notebook with you at all times and write down four daily new words. This way, not only will communication be easier, but you’ll also get a better grasp of everyone’s interests, especially in Asia.
Plan two or three days to explore the city and get to know its surroundings. Go shopping with a local and a detailed list that includes images of each product necessary to your prop crafting. Look out and keep your eyes open to anticipate any potential request that the show’s director or creative team might be throwing your way. See yourself as a walking library of ideas!
Get up early for an hour of physical exercise, whether it’s stretching, walking or any activity that can put you in a good state of body and mind. Only then, while cooling down, shall you look at your emails and get on with your work schedule. Get some fresh air!
Read and reply to your emails once in the morning and again in the evening to avoid wasting too much time on your computer. With time, you’ll notice that most problems and questions that fill your mailbox ultimately get solved with a certain amount of reflection and distance.
Party Time! It ain’t forbidden, but cannot become a daily thing. You’ll never manage to keep up with your schedule and your body won’t wait very long to let you know that it can’t too!
Eleven? Yes, eleven out of ten, because there always is a surprise that awaits those who read everything all the way through! Remember that there are no dramas, only solutions. There’s always a way out. Keep on smiling because everything is much more enjoyable when done with a smile. It’s only a show after all!