© Alistair Devine
Props and costumes can be both a help and a hazard!

Reasons for using them:

  • They add another dimension to a drama workshop or performance
  • They are fun for the young performers.
  • They make it easier for the performer and audience to understand time, place and character.
  • You can involve others in collecting or making them
  • Making props or costumes can be very creative

Reasons for not using them:

  • Buying or hiring items is expensive; if you borrow items, you must ensure they are kept safe. You may need to clean borrowed costumes before returning them.
  • If you want elaborate costumes, you need to plan a long way ahead to ensure that everything is right and the wearer is comfortable.
  • Remember that a costume can catch on scenery or props resulting in problems for the wearer.
  • Props become a nuisance if constantly fiddled with or dropped.
  • The pupils might grow so reliant on them that, if something is missing, they cannot carry on!

Checklist – when using them:

  • Allow time for the performers to get used to them. If added at the last minute, they may prove to be a costly distraction.
  • The costumes need to fit the performers and look right for the performance
  • Props must be a manageable size and weight.

Using simple props and costumes:

  • You may keep things very simple, of course. For example, your pupils could wear tee shirts and jeans. For the slave trade project, ragged shirts and trousers were used – or torn white tee shirts and smart black ones.
  • Your pupils might wear their own clothes – and, with the addition of a hat, convey status and role or, with a walking stick, imply age, etc.
  • Asking pupils to select a simple prop or piece of costume, in workshops, can be fun - and help the pupils adopt different roles. Hats are good for this. For instance, you could suggest that: whoever wears the pretty bonnet or top hat must become very posh. (The pupils’ body language and the way they speak to another person should reflect their incredible poshness!)

But you don’t have to use any props or costumes at all…

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