The Stage Life of Props by
Publication Date: 2010-02-22
In The Stage Life of Props, Andrew Sofer aims to restore to certain props the performance dimensions that literary critics are trained not to see, then to show that these props are not just accessories, but time machines of the theater. Using case studies that explore the Eucharistic wafer on the medieval stage, the bloody handkerchief on the Elizabethan stage, the skull on the Jacobean stage, the fan on the Restoration and early eighteenth-century stage, and the gun on the modern stage, Andrew Sofer reveals how stage props repeatedly thwart dramatic convention and reinvigorate theatrical practice. While the focus is on specific objects, Sofer also gives us a sweeping history of half a millennium of stage history as seen through the device of the prop, revealing that as material ghosts, stage props are a way for playwrights to animate stage action, question theatrical practice, and revitalize dramatic form. Andrew Sofer is Assistant Professor of English, Boston College. He was previously a stage director.