I remember the first time I packed my prop case after the covid lockdowns in Spring 2021. A task which normally takes less than thirty minutes took more than two hours, primarily due to my constant self-doubt and worry I’d forget a prop. If I had been following the example of this blog post before the shutdown, I could have taken out the prop scroll and been done in 30-40 minutes. Maybe less.
A prop scroll (or at least that’s what I call it) is a roll of paper that can be spread out on a table. It’s an idea that goes back to theater prop masters. You outline every single one of your props and then write within the outline what they are. Think of it as a checklist on steroids.
When it’s time to set your show, unfurl the scroll and place the props in their outlines. Any notes you want to add, like what pocket that thumb tip goes it, can be written directly on the scroll.
This idea goes to a concept I want in my work: The amateur practices until he gets it right. The professional practices until he can’t get it wrong. For me, I want this go beyond simply practice, so I’ll rephrase the saying:
The amateur uses methods, tools, routines, props, etc.
that make sure he gets it right.
The professional uses methods, tools, routines, props, etc.
that make sure he can’t get it wrong.
Of course, not getting it wrong is never 100%. It’s a fallen world, brothers and sisters. But ideas like the prop scroll bring us a little bit closer to %99.99.