During my first meeting with Dan Bartunek he gave all of the other props people and myself a tour of the warehouse.  Once he established a general idea of where all of the types of props were, he began discussing with me his plans for the reorganization of the warehouse over the course of the semester.  As Dan spoke I found it very difficult to keep up with all of what he was saying, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I, by my lonesome, would be able to meet all of these tasks that he was putting in front of me.  Dan seemed confident enough, I did not.

My first big task, and one of the most important in the complete reorganization of the props warehouse was measuring all of the rugs on a giant steel rack and then getting rid of the rack itself.  I went to the warehouse and over the course of several days, with the assistance of a measuring tape, a Sharpie marker, and a small roll of white gaffer’s tape, I began to unfurl all of the rugs, get their height and length, and then reroll them and place them somewhere that wasn’t on the rack.  Once I had gotten the rack almost completely empty, I was faced with another challenge.  Some previous person had, for some unknown reason, decided that the best place to put a cast-iron tub was on top of this steel rack, where it very easily got lodged between the box-steel frame.  After a discussion with I believe Eric and Tom Burke (and possibly Tom Tucker) I was able to take a chain motor and, wrapping two span sets around the tub, lift the thing out and safely set it down on the ground.  After that, getting rid of the steel rack was as simple as taking a ban saw to it and cutting it into small, manageable pieces.  Needless to say, Dan was ecstatic when he saw the amount of space this freed up in the warehouse.

After that, and between my visits to the props warehouse, Dan had managed to get a group of production practicum lab students to disassemble a rack that was on the upstairs and reassemble it on the downstairs where the steel rack had been.  This rack became populated by all of the couches in the warehouse, with Dan’s thinking being that it didn’t make sense to have to carry heavy couches up and down stairs.  This also allowed Dan to have more space upstairs where there was a few more racks.  Dan himself was surprised at the progress being made, saying on more than one occasion that we had accomplished more in a couple of weeks than he had expected us to do all semester.

We then utilized a Design Sem breakout session and a late lab class to move another rack, and flip it’s orientation.  Suddenly we had even more space upstairs and a rack full of nothing but chairs.  We seemed to be on a real tear, but we had slow down as both “Road to Glory” and “Three-Penny” kicked into heavy production and my services were needed elsewhere, whether it be on a paint call where I learned to scumble, or if I was building props that eventually ended up getting cut from the show anyway.

Our last big push came during the strike of “Three-Penny”.   After all of the props had been returned to us, Dan and I again utilized all of the people that had shown up to the strike to our advantage.  We flipped and rearranged the remaining racks on the upstairs level, fulfilling Dan’s vision of having walkable isles instead of a big mess in front of the racks that were pushed the long way against the wall.  Even after all of this, Dan refused to stop and pushed up further, completely rearranging the downstairs, especially the side under the upper level.  I emptied the two steel chair racks that had been buried in there and handed the chairs off to other students who took them up to Dan to be put on one of the now two tall chair racks upstairs.  We then moved the lower racks into the shop for them to be dismantled and preceded to move the bench rack, tables, desks, and even a doorway under there with plenty of room to spare.

Now at the end of the semester the props warehouse looks completely different.  Dan’s ultimate goal of making it more navigable, and making props easier to find and reach is pretty close to true.  But like with anything, it’s not finished, and I hope whoever takes over my position next semester will continue to make that room the best that it can.  We’ve already done the hardest work in there, thought, so it will certainly be easy for them.