Where: Cape Town Opera Company, Cape Town, South Africa
Position: Production Department Intern; then Props Coordinator
When: January – April 2013
I was very pleasantly surprised when I got the offer to go halfway across the world for 4 months of intensive, hands-on work. For the first week, I was pretty much a paper pusher, organizing and packing old files and such, since they didn’t really know exactly where they wanted to put me, but that changed very quickly. The Production Manager, my supervisor, started assigning me small daily projects to complete, like ordering lengths of fabric and keeping track of daily expenses for the office. Once I proved competent, she assigned me progressively larger tasks until I was managing the props for their production of Otello.
That role took over my life. I never knew that there were so many separate steps to procuring props. Sourcing, more sourcing and re-sourcing, buying and, in some cases, building, arranging transport, and keeping inventory (because, unfortunately, some things did like to sprout legs and skip merrily to freedom in the middle of the night). I spent a lot of time on the company’s construction plot, exploring their 3-story, 200-foot long warehouses stuffed full of interesting curios and set pieces that had been used in various shows throughout the years. My favorite parts were the drives through the Western Cape when we went to visit our various suppliers. I’ve never seen a more beautiful landscape in my life.
I’m very satisfied with the experience. Even though it was very stressful and trying, I did not sink! I learned to cope and to keep my mind on the work at hand in order to get things done. And I do hope they’ll remember me there at the Cape Town Opera Company; because if they ever need a full-time or seasonal Prop Master, I surely wouldn’t turn down another offer!