Padlocks, pacifiers and paint

There are times, as director of Hatstand Opera, that I can’t face the computer screen for another minute of email spam nonsense, and it’s time to get back to my theatre roots, and make some props.

My degree is not in music, but English and Drama, so I can’t resist the lure of a sunny day with a great drying wind when there are things to be glued, painted or washed. A result, I guess, of years of student production sets drying in the Birmingham sunshine outside the doors of our dungeon-like studio theatre, followed by years of Hatstand costumes drying on the line ready for the next night’s show.

So, today’s challenge was to make a padlock for Papageno’s mouth, for our extract from Mozart’s “Magic Flute”. I’m sure you know the story; Papageno talks too much so his mouth is locked shut. (If only…) He does have to sing a little with the padlock in place, and of course it has to be safe, hygienic, and non-damaging to his teeth, so a real metal padlock is out of the question.

This takes me back a night or two, when I browsed the net to discover the delights of – plastic padlocks. Yes, they do exist, and thanks to the nice folk at Universeal, I requested a great selection of industrial grade plastic seals and padlocks to choose from. Problem is, none of them look right on their own. They need to attach to something bolt-like to look credible.

So, padlock mechanism mark 1 consists of a cutdown baby’s dummy (or comforter as they are know – more PC I guess), with a hole drilled through the centre section, which is painted in metallic paint to look like a bolt, and a plastic padlock threads through that. Question is, can the baritone sing with it? And what will it look like from a distance? We’ll find out at tomorrow’s rehearsal…. and I’ll keep you posted.

Want to see how it works out? Come along to either our Exbury Gardens show on Sat 27 June or at Exeter Northcott Theatre on Sunday 28 June and find out – for full details see the Hatstand Opera Tour Dates tab above!

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