We demand a lot from props. The writer writes them to perform a certain function in the story. The designer wants the prop to look a certain way, the director wants them to work with 100% reliability, while the actors are concerned with how the prop feels. Eimer’s talk focuses on the experience of the prop master as we try to please all of them.
She draws on research she undertook while writing her Masters thesis, with particular emphasis on unpacking some of the anecdotal experiences of actors and their attitudes to the objects they use in performance.

This masterclass took place on 28 April 2022 on Zoom.

Click on the image below to watch the full video. Enjoy!


Eimer Murphy is the Prop Master at the Abbey Theatre Dublin.

Her early career as a stage manager who also made props has given Eimer a unique insight into props and how they must fulfil many separate roles, satisfying the very different needs of the writers, designers, directors and of course, the actors who partner them onstage.

Finding the lack of literature on props frustrating, and in order to undertake some research of her own, Eimer took up a part time MA in Material Culture Design History in NCAD in 2015. The resulting MA thesis on props is entitled When Are We Getting The Real Thing?, a title which initially perplexed her tutor but to which her theatre colleagues instantly related. The thesis draws on extensive oral histories recorded with predominately Irish writers, directors, designers and actors, to capture anecdotal and little understood behaviours and attitudes held towards props, and applied material culture and behavioural psychology theories to unlock some of the reasons behind them.

Since completing the MA Eimer has presented papers at several academic conferences, notably for the Irish Society for Theatre Research at the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies conference entitled Stage Irish in 2019.

Eimer is a regular guest lecturer on Props at The Lir Academy in Dublin, and is also the author of a chapter entitled “Props to the Abbey Prop Man, a tribute to legendary Prop Master Stephen Molloy”, which appears in the Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Irish Theatre.

Abbey Theatre Website


sKēnographia is presented in association with Project Arts Centre.

The first & second series were funded by The Arts Council Theatre Resource & Development Scheme 2021 & 2022.

The third series is funded under The Arts Council Arts Grant Funding Scheme 2024. 

COFFEE & WINE SPILLS are presented in association with Irish Theatre Institute.

Featured Music by Lux Alma