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  • 1.  Building Prop Car

    Posted 01-17-2022 19:19
    We are performing "Happy Days" in the Spring.  I would love to have a prop car (at least the front). Does anyone have a design idea and or how to build one?  Even the look of the front of an old convertable.
    Thank you for any ideas.

    Melinda Carlson

  • 2.  RE: Building Prop Car

    Posted 01-20-2022 10:40
    Hi Melinda! There are a good number of past posts about creating cars for various productions, if you use the search feature of the Community to search for "car" you'll find a list. Here are a couple good ones to get you started:

    Greased Lightning Car Prop

    Making a car for stage

    Has anyone else created a car for the stage?

    Ginny Butsch
    Community Engagement Manager
    Educational Theatre Association

  • 3.  RE: Building Prop Car

    Posted 01-23-2022 02:43
    Regardless of how you build it, it will typically be on casters so it can move about.  A prop car with occupants can get very heavy and difficult to control as it generally doesn't have any brakes other than the 'Fred Flintstone' effect of the actor's feet.  The inertia of a rolling manned prop can lead to some unintended consequences of the prop rolling where it doesn't belong and striking other performers, scenery, or worse -- like rolling off of the front of the stage apron and into the orchestra pit or front row of the audience (this has happened before, and people got pretty banged-up).

    The actors need lots of practice with the car while other actors / technicians are NOT on the stage so they can get the feel of how the car handles.  Also, consider adding some sort of emergency brake mechanism that the occupants can activate should they get going the the wrong way to fast.  One possibility to consider is adding a wire rope tether line to the back of the car that is anchored upstage.  Set the length of the tether line so the car can't reach the front edge of the stage apron.  Placing some temporary wedge blocking strips across the front edge of the apron so the wheels will hit a curb before it can roll off the edge of the stage may help, too.

    Erich Friend
    Theatre Consultant
    Teqniqal Systems LLC