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January 11, 2011 > Foam brownies and plywood handsaws

Foam brownies and plywood handsaws

Submitted By George Ledo

Where do all those props and costumes used at the Douglas Morrisson Theatre in Hayward come from? A small exhibit at the new Castro Valley Library gives you a clue, as well as a close-up look at some of them and how they were created. The exhibit, titled "From Script to Stage: Where Props and Costumes Come From, and How They Get There," is on display till the end of January.

The first thing that catches your eye at the exhibit is a large Celtic stone cross, part of a tombstone made for "The Sound of Music" in 2006. It sits high up in the display case, on a sheet of 1/4" glass supported by a thin metal bracket. It's only when you read the accompanying card that you realize the cross is made of plastic foam. It just happens to look like solid stone.

Among the other items in the exhibit are two replica 1800s British telephones made for "Sullivan and Gilbert," utilizing custom-made wood bases and an assortment of parts from the Morrisson prop rooms. A medieval handsaw (also pine and plywood) shares a shelf with a London "Times" of 1898 which looks authentic until you get up close and realize all the writing is just placeholder text. Prop food, which looks good enough to eat, includes a cheesecake, a plate of brownies, and a birthday cake with spackling paste "frosting." One particularly interesting display shows, step by step, how a 1930s studio microphone was made from plastic foam, a paper cover, and a metal bracket.

Each item includes a card that tells what it is, what show it was made for, and what the materials are. There's also a printed panel which briefly describes the overall process used to select or create props and costumes at a theatre. The exhibit title pretty well summarizes it: it all starts with the story.

From Script to Stage
Through January
Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday: Noon - 8 p.m.
Tuesday: Noon - 8 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Friday: Closed
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Castro Valley Library
3600 Norbridge Avenue, Castro Valley
(510) 667-7900

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