If an actor picked up a gun, the whole audience would inhale a little quicker than usual…all because the prop has power. Their minds would start spinning. “What’s he gonna do?” “Who’s he gonna use that on?” Questions frame their thoughts because they understand the prop has the ability to create a lot of drama in a heartbeat.
You’re surrounded by props. Look around, props cover your stage. Some of them don’t have much influence, but other props have the power to cause the audience to inhale sharply when you pick them up.
You know, a prop with a lot of drama-creating power is the phone. With that prop you can contact someone in an instant. Sometimes that’s a good thing but at other times it’s completely toxic (like when it’s a member of your cast that should have been cut a long time ago.) That prop can be the fuel that causes a dead-end rerun to keep playing on your stage.
By pressing a few little icons, the phone can take you to any internet site you choose. Great idea, unless you find yourself wandering to sites that are toxic. No big deal—at first. But those toxic tunes and images are now stored within you, waiting to be activated when your guard is down. The phone is a prop, a prop with power.
I was in a waiting room the other day with about ten other people. All but one was completely consumed in the tiny prop. You know, the actor should have control over a prop. After all, that prop isn’t living, isn’t breathing, it’s an object. But, if the first thing I do when I have an idle moment is grab the prop and consume what shows up on the screen, then I have to question who is really in control. So many conversations, chances for impact, and “what ifs” are missed, all because of the prop.
Control the prop. When you’re alone, if the prop pulses a toxic lure—look at it and remind it who’s in control of the stage. When you are with others, see the value of their life as more important than sling-shotting birds across the sky, raising some sheep on your farm, posting a comment or tweeting something random. Do those things later.
Control the prop; control the timing; control the duration…because a prop only has power when you yield yours.