It's a huge, HUGE help to poor and struggling theaters (i.e. all theaters) when those with furniture, props, or other assets share their wealth. I am, personally, grateful for these loans. It doesn't just improve a show, often it makes it possible. Especially for period work.
In KD's In the Next Room: the Vibrator Play even the impressive legs of the doctor's table were loaners. Sure, we could have built that table without 'em, but it wouldn't have looked nearly as solidly, Victorianly, authoritative as that exam table HAD to look - appearing a very Altar in the Temple of Science.
Those legs helped both sell this Doc's authority... and make the sexy carryings-on funnier.
In Fort Worth - enlightened theater world! - one university shares a warehouse with many theaters. All put furniture in it, all are welcome to borrow it out again, with a simple sign-out book and an honor system. Dallas? Nope. Few theaters can afford a warehouse, but if you call around, many kind groups, schools, or individuals will offer what you need. (I've had sofas out of living rooms sometimes!) Theatre Three is particularly kind and helpful and rich in furniture. Thank you Theatre Three!
Now look again at that photo of In the Next Room...
In the Next Room: the Vibrator Play - photo by Matt Mrozek
See the handsome antique cabinet on the upstage wall? Holding medical books and instruments? It helps set the time period, reinforces the doctor's wealth and authority - literally gives him weight - plus it's the only real piece of furniture in the room, almost on the set, so scenically it's quite valuable... (And, as a designer, I love that it has fat corner "legs" too, so it talks to my table. It's funny.)
Wouldn't be allowed to borrow that this year.
For some reason - no one's been told why - the Dallas Theater Center, which has a grand and very rich storehouse of furniture and props (paid for, in part, by tax money and in tiny part by my ticket purchases over the years)... Well, they've stopped loaning out.
No loans. Nobody.
This is a great loss. I'm very grateful for their furniture over the last decade, as I know many many other designers and theaters are, all around town. The Dallas Theater Center's stock has enriched plays in the entire region. They have by far, by multiples of tens and hundreds or thousands, the budget for furniture of any other theater in Dallas, Fort Worth, or all the cities around. Their warehouse is a treasure trove! I'm sure their generosity cost some time, but... surely the flagship of Dallas theater thinks supporting this region's theater is worthwhile?
I'm heart-sick that DTC's generous lending has stopped.
I wish the Dallas Theater Center would reconsider. Please loan out to us little guys again. We may be poorer, but we do good theater too. We would appreciate your help.
Return of the Dreaded Sofa and Pulling Furniture, an earlier post on the topic.)