Pop Up Shop Story: The National Theatre Propstore is Back!

Open this weekend on London’s South Bank, the National Theatre Propstore is back for its second and final installment  The concept may sound simple: props and scenery from recent National Theatre productions are displayed as part of a temporary cafe/bar. But as last year’s @NTPropstore fans already know ( and this year’s are soon to discover ) the effect achieved by the sensitive curation of the props, and the fact that literally everything is structurally or superficially built of them, makes the space feel familiar and curious at once. True to its theatrical nature, it lights up the Southbank impressively after dark – a serious beacon for anyone looking east from a bus over Waterloo Bridge.

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We’re taking you with us behind the scenes to visit the Propstore while the space is still in production. If you’re as investigative as we are, you probably also find it hard to shake a fascination with ‘what’s behind the curtain’ in live performances and films. Maybe we want a part of the story that somehow feels more authentic, or a way to engage more directly with the mysteries; in either case, watching the Propstore develop before our eyes is trippy.

The Propstore launched for the first time in London’s Olympic Summer 2012 and was a huge hit. At the moment, we are surrounded by false walls, toilets-that-aren’t-toiletstiny trains‘trees’ rolled in ‘grass’ like giant fake sushi rolls and a space-age floor.

Mark Simpson, head of catering at the National Theatre, explains that this year’s installment serves the dual-purpose of acting as a facade of sorts. Construction and development is taking place just behind the Propstore throughout the rest of the year for a new mainstay National Theatre project.

We’re walking through a space made of fake stuff, which is also a functional false wall for the Theatre itself… and it all disappears by the end of the year. It feels weird to think it, but we’re overcome by the sense that The Propstore is actually making magic happen. While the opening night is yet upon us, we eagerly look forward to the next transformation about to take place.

The Propstore is open until the 28th of September 2013, and you can visit the National Theatre to find out more about what’s ‘in store’.

You can also see the rest of our journey depicted in photos.

And we just caught this great review by Lauren Laverne interviewing the Propstore’s producer and designer.