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The Tricky Business of Acquiring Stage Props


by Stephen Becker 30 Oct 2009

Where exactly does one go these days to buy a Nazi flag? That’s the question that was on my mind after taking in Upstart Productions‘ staging of Talk Radio. The play’s about a talk show host named Barry Champlain (played with vinegar in the veins by Elias Taylorson). He hosts a late-night call-in show, and […]

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Where exactly does one go these days to buy a Nazi flag?

That’s the question that was on my mind after taking in Upstart Productions‘ staging of Talk Radio. The play’s about a talk show host named Barry Champlain (played with vinegar in the veins by Elias Taylorson). He hosts a late-night call-in show, and he’s got Rush Limbaugh’s ego and Howard Stern’s proclivity for provocation. Eric Bogosian’s play is based on outspoken Denver radio personality Alan Berg, who was murdered in his driveway by members of a white nationalist group called The Order.

Which is where the Nazi flag, complete with swastika, enters the scene. I won’t give away how it makes into the radio studio that serves as the set, but suffice it to say the audience spends about half the play starring at it draped across the desk. (In a side note, kudos to set designers Joel and Scott Bayer for their dead-on construction of Champlain’s radio desk. It looks just like the one Krys Boyd sits at Monday-Thursday from noon to 2 p.m.)

In an e-mail today, Upstart Artistic Director Josh Glover explains the tricky business of acquiring the flag:

“The Nazi flag was actually purchased by our Production Manager, Brad Hennigan. We had him order it online to avoid having to purchase it through the local chapter of the Aryan Nation…although we’ve joked about the fact that he’s probably on some kind of watch list now. The things people do for theater…”

My guess is Hennigan will go ahead and get rid of that little artifact after the show instead of putting it back up on eBay.

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  • Nazi flag aside, this is a pretty great (and fun) question for a lot of folks whose job it is to acquire stage props. My empty, yet still inquiring, mind wants to know…