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The Incident Room: Props

Opening next week: #TheIncidentRoom 🗄at the New Diorama Theatre, London. A forensic examination of the five year hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper! Get your tickets here:

The New Diorama Theatre commissioned a couple of interesting props for their upcoming play of The Incident room. The props include reproductions of the call for help posters/ newspaper supplements created by The West Yorkshire , Metropolitan Police (image above). In the absence of high-fidelity copies of the original, I resorted to recreating the newspaper from scratch using digital design software to match the typeface, typeset, copy and images. The close proximity of the audience throughout the play demands a good level of detail in the props, so the newspaper is closely matched to the original.

How are prop newspapers made:

The design: This newspaper was created in Adobe illustrator, although indesign would be a good choice too! An art-board was created to match the same size as a shop bought newspaper- I chose a broadsheet in keeping with the era. I found some reasonable references images online depicting the original newspaper. I dragged in reference of the original newsprint and scaled it to fit the art board. I adjusted the transparency of the reference down 50% , locked the layer and created a new layer on top. Having the reference below helped me to trace out the layout more accurately. I took screenshots of the original fonts and uploaded them to 'What The Font' to source close matches. Word by word I replicated the newspaper, using the kerning and line spacing tools repeatedly to match the original. Images were sourced and then pixilated using a halftone filter to give a newsprint look.

Printing: I printed my paper at a local reprographics company on to a newsprint type paper. I also printed generic copy on the other side of the spread incase the page happened to flick up in the performance to reveal a blank page! The prints came out a little glossy, from this I have learnt for a super realistic result print the graphics at only 70% black, this will give you a more realistic look and avoid too much shine from the black toner ink.

Finishing: Trim the page to size to fit around your shop-bought newspaper for added realism use a perforating tool to create a torn away look along the top and bottom edges.

The second of the props was a 1970s Telephone, although this telephone can pump water from the handset. You'll need to go and see the show to see how its used! This prop needed to be easy to rig on a nightly basis and almost silent in its ejection of water. Much experimentation proved key to its success.



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