Protecting The Force: Star Wars memorabilia in All Childish Things
If the quarry in Joseph Zettelmaier's heist comedy was money, or gold, or diamonds, it would have been no problem—everybody knows that what they see onstage is just gilt paint and glass beads. Ah, but the treasure tempting a quartet of Star Wars fans to the Dark Side in All Childish Things is a warehouse filled with rare memorabilia commemorating George Lucas' legendary six-part film series—ephemera coveted by collectors willing to pay in the millions for plastic action-figures or boxed games not unlike those displayed in the basement apartment providing the play's setting, only a few feet away from an audience eager to share in the fantasy invoked by these relics of their youth.
These iconic objects are not replicas, however, but genuine vintage, making the question of just how far those spectators will go in their efforts to share in that fantasy a matter of no small concern.
"Everything you see onstage is borrowed from private collections," says stage manager Amy Hopkins, "Some from the actors, some from their friends and a few from other sources. The Empire Strikes Back bedsheets belong to Kevin D'Ambrosio, who plays Carter in the play, and the precious holy-grail action figure—created for the premiere production in Michigan—was a loan from the playwright."
What security measures are implemented to guard against theft or damage? "Every single item is packed away in tubs and stored in a padlocked cabinet. I have an inventory list that I check off before the show every night to ascertain that each object in the room is placed in the exact same spot."
How about when you have playgoers milling around at random—during intermission, say, or leaving afterward? "We are very aware of the potential for props walking away by themselves," Hopkins assures me, "We all keep a close eye on the stage when spectators are roaming unsupervised. Fortunately, it's a small auditorium, so it's easy to see when people are clustering a bit too near."
Do you offer chaperoned tours? "Sometimes patrons will ask, very politely, to look at the decor up close. Most of the time, they are extremely respectful about not touching things." She smiles, remembering, "When we were assembling the set dressing, and the various items were trickling in, little by little, we all turned into 6-year-olds again, re-living the excitement associated with each action-figure and bragging about which ones we had at home. The people who come see the show are no different—they just want to enjoy recalling their childhoods for a moment."
All Childish Things runs through December 17.
Mary Shen Barnidge
Follow Us On Twitter