A PROP or theatrical property, is an object used on stage by actors for use in the plot or story line of a play.
HAND PROPS are smaller props. Larger props may also be set decoration, such as a chair or table.
The term PROP comes from a time during the renaissance, when theatre companies functioned as cooperatives, pooled resources and divided any income. Many performers provided their own costumes, but special items: stage weapons, furniture or other hand-held devices were considered "COMPANY PROPERTY," thus the term "property," which eventually was shortened to "prop."
The first known props were stylized hand held masks, called Onkoi, used by performers in "Greek Theatre" and have become symbols of theatre today, known as the "comedy and tragedy masks".
The term "theatrical property" originated to describe an object used in a stage play and similar entertainments to further the action.
Technically, a prop is any object that gives the scenery, actors, or performance space specific period, place, or character.
The term comes from live-performance practice, especially theatrical methods, but its modern use extends beyond the traditional plays and musical, circus, novelty, comedy, and even public-speaking performances, to film, television, and electronic media.
Props in a production originate from off stage unless they have been preset on the stage before the production begins.
Props are stored on a prop table backstage near the actor's entrance during production then generally locked in a storage area between performances.
The person in charge of handling and buying/finding the props is called the props master/mistress.
Many props are ordinary objects. However, a prop must "read well" from the house or on-screen, meaning it must look real to the audience.