A property, commonly shortened to prop (plural: props), is an object used on stage or on screen by actors during a performance or screen production. In practical terms, a prop is considered to be anything movable or portable on a stage or a set, distinct from the actors, scenery, costumes and electrical equipment.
The earliest known use of the term "properties" in the English language to refer to the appurtenances of the stage is in the 1425 CE Morality play, The Castle of Perseverance. The Oxford English Dictionary finds the first usage of "props" in 1841, while the singular form of "prop" appeared in 1911. During the Renaissance in Europe, small acting troupes functioned as cooperatives, pooling resources and dividing any income. Many performers provided their own costumes, but special items—stage weapons, furniture or other hand-held devices—were considered "company property;" hence the term "property." The relationship between "property" in the sense of ownership and "property" in the sense of a stage or screen object imply that they "belong" to whoever uses them on stage. There is no difference between props in different medium, such as theatre, film, or television. Bland Wade, a properties director, says, "A coffee cup onstage is a coffee cup on television, is a coffee cup on the big screen." He adds, "There are definitely different responsibilities and different vocabulary." History
The first known props were stylized hand held masks, called Onkoi, used by performers in "Greek Theatre" and have become symbols of theatre today, known as the "comedy and tragedy masks". On stage and backstage
The term "theatrical property" originated to describe an object used in a stage play and similar entertainments to further the action. Technically, a prop is any object that gives the scenery, actors, or performance space specific period, place, or characterThe term comes from live-performance practice, especially theatrical...
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