21st April 2021

Props: I Draw, I Anticipate, I Invent

props

Editors Note: Aurelie writes in her native language of French. English translation below.

Je dessine, j’invente, j’anticipe, j’imagine et je délire. Je coupe, je ponce, je peint, j’installe, j’expérimente et je fabrique les souhaits.

J’ornemente, je décore, j’éclaire et je déguise la scène de mes babioles.

Je customise et donne apparence nouvelle aux objets; Je dois être à l’écoute des dernières technologies et des tendances. Je scrute les artistes aux talents multiples et les innovateurs. Ma meilleure arme est la curiosité. Je n’en n’oublie pas les techniques de fabrications traditionnelles qui s’avèrent toujours les plus efficaces. Mes qualités indispensables sont l’adaptabilité et l’action. Mes richesses sont mes équipiers. Je farfouille, j’achète, je cherche et parfois ne trouve pas. Je dois donc réfléchir sous un autre angle pour trouver les solutions. J’organise, je classe, je note. Mon atelier dois être toujours en ordre, prêt à accueillir un accessoire brisé. Telle une salle d’opération, chaque outil et soigneusement préparé. Une retouche peinture, un boulon à serrer, pas une minute à perdre, la scène n’attend pas, les répétitions ont déjà commencées. Je déjeune à peine. Du matin au soir, je coure après les minutes, les infos, les dernières nouvelles sur les notes du metteur en scène. Je tente en même temps de mettre la main sur ces petites pièces métalliques qu’on ne trouve qu’au niveau 3, escalier, je monte, je descend. Quoi ! ascenseur, pas le temps d’attendre. J’adore arriver tôt le matin, pousser la porte du théâtre, puis de mon atelier et me retrouver seule face à mes chers accessoires. Il n’y a pas encore de bruit dans les loges ou les coulisses. Moment de calme avant l’arrivée des équipes, moment de réflexion et de planification du travail. A cet instant, le théâtre tout entier vous dévoile ses secrets. Je voyage aussi, de pays en pays. Je rencontre, partage et apprends.

Je découvre les merveilles du monde au travers des boutiques, des quartiers et des artisans que je visite à la recherche de trésors. Je communique, je parle, je gesticule, dessine et mime dans les cas les plus extrêmes. Je dois garder mon calme et mon sang froid pour assurer ma mission. Je montre, j’explique. Demandez moi la lune, un avion ou une pâquerette, je ne dirais jamais non, car tout est réalisable. Je négocie, tente de convaincre, donne mon avis. Dans le noir des coulisses, je deviens aussi psychologue, oreille alerte et attentive aux artistes angoissés. J’observe et me prépare à intervenir. Sur le « qui vive » . Je m’assure que la petite pièce métallique trouvée au niveau 3 ne s’est pas brisée par un geste malheureux, une chute malencontreuse. J’écoute religieusement chaque « TOP » qui m’est annoncé dans mon casque. Je déplace, je replace et remplace. Certains jours sont bénis, les commandes arrivent dans des boites en cartons.. c’est un peu Noël ! Objets mystérieux que je déballe comme une enfant pressée de découvrir son nouveau joujou. D’autres jours sont de pures catastrophes. Perdue en ville, sous une pluie diluvienne. Outils qui décident de ne plus fonctionner, équipiers malades, demande d’accessoires en urgence qui s’ajoutent à ma longue liste. Il y a des jours où j’aurais préférée être artiste funambule. Je suis un caméléon. Un jour peintre, un autre jour Designer 3D, puis électricienne ou menuisière, soudeur ou couturière. Scientifique ou Géo trouve tout des produits Epoxy. Spécialiste en mouvement pour anticiper la marche d’une girafe en bambou, danseur de breakdance pour choisir le revêtement d’un plateau de scène, spécialiste en instruments de musique Chinoise en évitant les erreurs de style.

Je suis un couteau Suisse ambulant. Je m’amuse et aime plus que tout ce métier aux multiples facettes.

On m’appelle le « Props » Une syllabe suffit, rapide et efficace ,je suis accessoiriste tout simplement.

****

I draw, I invent, I anticipate, I imagine wildly.
I cut, I sand, I paint, I install, I experiment and I make wishes.

I ornament, I decorate, I enlighten and disguise the stage with my trinkets.

I customize and give a new appearance to objects; I must stay on top of the latest technologies and trends. I scrutinize innovators and multi-talented artists.

My best arm is curiosity. I never abandon the traditional manufacturing techniques which always prove to be the most effective.
My essential qualities are adaptability and action.
My riches are my teammates.
I rummage, I buy, I search and sometimes end up empty handed.
So, I have to reconsider from another angle to find the solutions.
I organize, I class, I note.

My workshop must always be orderly, ready to treat a broken stage accessory.
In such an operating room, each tool must be available and carefully prepared.
A touch-up paint, a bolt to turn and with not a minute to lose.
The stage never waits and the rehearsals have already begun.
I barely lunch.

From morning ‘till night, I constantly run behind the time that runs ahead.
Always on the pulse of the news, the latest news on the director’s notes.
At the same time, I try to get my hands on these small metal parts that are only found in a distant part of the building – on level 3. Endless stairs – up and down like a vertical carousel.
What, the elevator?! No time to wait.

I love coming early in the morning and passing through the threshold of the theatre door, then to my studio to find myself alone in front of my dear accessories.

There is still no sound from the dressing rooms nor backstage wings.
A delicious moment of calm before the arrival of the teams – a moment of reflection and planning for the work ahead.

At this moment, the entire theatre reveals its secrets to you.
I also travel from country to country. I meet, share and learn.
I discover the wonders of the world through the shops, neighbourhoods and artisans that I visit in search of treasures. I communicate, I speak, I gesticulate, draw and mime in the most extreme cases.
I have to keep calm and cool to stay on track. I demonstrate, I explain.
Ask me for the moon, an aeroplane or a daisy, I would never say no because everything is achievable.
I negotiate, attempt to convince, give my opinion. In the dark behind the scenes, I also become a psychologist, an alert and attentive ear to anguished artists.

I watch and prepare to intervene – be always on the look-out.
I ensure that that minute metal part found at level 3 wasn’t broken by an abrupt gesture or unfortunate fall. I listen religiously to every cue in my headset. I move, replace and replace. Some days are blessed. The boxes arrive from their destination, sometimes miles from here and the time of choice. It’s a kind of a little Christmas! Mysterious objects that I unpack like a child in a hurry to discover his new toy. Other days are pure disasters. Lost in the city in torrential rain. Tools that decide to stop working, sick teammates, request for last-minute accessories that add to my long list that always seems to get longer no matter how much I accomplish. There are days when I would have preferred to be a tightrope artist. I am a chameleon. One day a painter, another day 3D designer, then electrician or carpenter, welder or seamstress.

Movement specialist who can anticipate the gait of a bamboo giraffe or a breakdancer to select the surface coating of a stage, a specialist in Chinese musical instruments all the while attempting to avoid the “faux pas” of style.

I am a walking Swiss army knife. I have fun and more than anything I love this multi-faceted business. I am quite simply an artisan of stage accessories with all that means to me and to the theatre.

They call me just “Props” and I love the simplicity of that word in face of all that it implies.

 

Also by Aurelie Gandilhon:

Artist’s Block: The Blank Page

What Do You Do For A Living?

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Aurelie is in 1982 in Marseille, city open to the Mediterranean world, city of light and cultural diversity. She participated in major projects in France and abroad putting all her passion into her creative works. She worked with ‘Opera Garnier’ in Paris, the ‘Theatre Royal de la Monnaie’ in Brussels, the ‘Marseille Opera’ and the ‘Festival d’Art Lyrique’ in Aix-en-Provence. Since 2009, she has travelled across Asia, collaborating with Franco Dragone on “The House of Dancing Water” show, as well as being involved in other creations such as TABOO 1, TABOO 2, TABOO 4 in Macao. With the Hong Kong Theater Association, she designed “Le Père Noël est une Ordure”, “Les pas perdus”, "Musee Haut Musee Bas " and "Je Dance Toujours" sets. Alongside the singer Mouron, the choreographer Anne Tournie and Terry Truck Tournie Pianist, she realized the set and props creation for the show "Le cabaret des annees folles" at the "The French May 2013′′ Festival in Hong Kong. In 2013, she joined the UNIPLAN Luxury Event creative team in the Shanghai and Hong Kong as Performance and Show Production Expert. Working for “Louis Vuitton”, “Maserati” and “ Moet et Chandon” events. She is also involved in The Shanghai Pride organisation and collaborated with "Cirque le Soir" Club as creative consultant and special party organiser. In 2015, she worked with the Franco Dragone team on "The HAN Show" in Wuhan, "The LIDO" in Paris, "The Dai Show" in Xishuangbanna and other creations in Dubai, Moscou and China. In 2016, she joined the famous Worldwide company Balich for the Special Olympic Games Flag Handover between Austria and Abu Dhabi, designing the set and the large scale props. In 2017 She start a new collaboration with SOKOL Show and Wanda in Harbin China. In charge of the prop design and the props department during the conception, the creation and the artistic production; Aurelie has also started a collaboration with STUFISH designing and creating the "Holiday On Ice" show in 2018. She is designing and managing the massive stage for the new Stunt show produce by SEP production in Haikou China. 2018 is also a year where she illustrate some show concept and artistic project for SEP, WANDA and other concept in developement in CHINA and EUROPE. A great new collabortation in Marseille is starting with the new Concept Club BONBONNE, not as a DJ this time, but as interior designer and artistic consultant. Giving to the town a new trend and unique place for a new experience.

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