Festival Feature: Meet Props Artisan Nick Bartleson
For those that don’t know, almost everything that touches the stage is made in-house. Because of this, Properties Director Ben Hohman and his team have their work cut out for them every season, and they never cease to impress.
This year, Nicolas Bartleson tackled props projects alongside Hohman and other props artisans. The new Props Artisan shared his experience this season with the Festival.
Bartleson double majored at Ohio University in production design and technology, as well as stage management. He had been involved in theatre since high school, but stumbled upon his college program unintentionally.
“Someone suggested I look at [props], and I discovered that I really loved it,” Bartleson said. “From then on, I stayed focused on props throughout college and did stage management in between.”
Bartleson found his connection to the Festival through Kelly Kreutsberg. He worked with the former Festival Props Manager in the off-season, and Kreutsberg later recommended him to the Festival.
Although Bartleson has a variety of experience working at different theaters, working with Texas Shakespeare Festival to Glimmerglass Opera, it was his very first season at the Festival, working from May to July this summer.
“I had a really positive experience,” Bartleson said. “The community was fun to be a part of, but on top of that, the quality of theatre production is really good.”
The Properties Department worked on all of the shows for the 2023 season, and so Bartleson found himself jumping around from prop to prop, project to project, play to play.
“My big projects were working on the canopy bed in Romeo and Juliet, as well as the grandfather clock and the chaise lounge in The Play That Goes Wrong,” Bartleson said.
He also completed smaller projects, like working on The Mechanicals cart in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“My favorite props to work on were the wheellock carbine pistols in Timon of Athens,” Bartleson said.
Although these props are only in the show for under a minute, Bartleson enjoyed the project because it fit more in his “personal wheelhouse of hand props.”
Ultimately, Bartleson returns to props again and again because of the variety the work brings.
“You never know what you’re going to get. I don’t think I’ve ever built the same prop twice,” Bartleson said.
The props artisan noted that he could be working on a seven foot clock one day from The Play That Goes Wrong, and bank statements from A Raisin in the Sun the next.
“I like the unpredictability of it,” Bartleson said. “You get to practice and work within all trades but become a master of none, more or less.”
To see the props that Bartleson and his team worked tirelessly on, don’t miss out on the four remaining plays of the season.
Purchase tickets to Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, The Play That Goes Wrong, Timon of Athens, and Coriolanus at bard.org or by calling 800-PLAYTIX.