Olney Theatre Center believes that arts education plays an essential role in our nation’s cultural health. That’s why in addition to our arts integration program, we offer apprenticeships. The apprenticeship program is a year-long experience intended to offer emerging theater artists a bridge between university (or whatever level of experience they bring to the table) and the profession. For one year, 16 apprentices live and work on OTC’s campus in every facet of the organization. Meet our props apprentice, Chelsea Dean!
What is the path that brought you to OTC?
I just graduated from Salisbury University with a double degree in production and performance. I didn't want to go to grad school yet, and I wanted to get my foot in the door and experience work in a higher level theatre environment. I began looking into internships and apprenticeships, and started asking people I knew what they thought of certain companies. I asked Maureen, our director of development, how she liked it here and she put me in touch with Jenna. Jenna invited me to tour and pre-interview, so I came out towards the end of last year. I liked the ethos and feeling of OTC and accepted the Props Apprenticeship when they offered it to me.
What are you working on right now?
There is a lot going on for Singin' in the Rain. It's such a huge show and the shop is humming along. The focus for Props has been on the bigger pieces this week- the cake Kathy pops out of, the infamous light post, and the chandeliers in Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Today, my focus will be on cutting out the detail work for the chandeliers.
What is something you are looking forward to?
I have never seen a stage production of Singin’ in the Rain, but grew up loving the movie. I will be very interested to see how it translates. I am also set to work crew for the show, which will be my first backstage crew work here at OTC.
What are you doing (or thinking about) for your Capstone?
I am not really sure yet. I am definitely interested in being the Prop Master for a show, and I am also open to other projects.
What's special about Olney Theatre Center?
OTC is incredible people-oriented. The apprentices and National Players live right above the offices. Everyone is around everyone else constantly, which fosters a familial vibe. Apprentices are treated with care and respect. One of the first things I noticed when I came for my tour last year was that so many former apprentices work here as full-time employees. It speaks very highly of a company when people like working there so much that they stay on or come back years after they apprenticed.
Why the Props apprenticeship?
Props is this fascinating marriage of different points of view and skills. Each day might involve any or all of the following: building, painting, sourcing period pieces, rentals, purchasing, managing storage, problem solving, communicating across departments, and so forth. When making a prop, one has to consider the world of the play, the director's desire, the function of the prop, the durability and safety of it for the actor...I could go on, but then this would become a thesis.
Good props look like they seamlessly belong, and poorly suited props become glaringly obvious. No matter how few, props are integral to a play. As an actor and director, I understand the importance of solid props to a show. Prop work is challenging and exciting and I love that every day is different.
Chelsea posts regularly on instagram @chelseascenicartdesign regarding her projects throughout the season! Check out these props from the past two months she has worked on.