Technical Theatre

A Chilling Reminder about Safety

From Utah comes sad news about a high school student who died from wounds sustained backstage when a prop gun went off.

There is nothing more important in theatre than safety.

We have only one play in our catalogue that requires an onstage gun (Power Play). The following note is in the forward:

Guns are not toys. Above all else, YOU MUST take the gun use seriously and YOU MUST be safe. I strongly recommend that the gun used in the play be 100% fake. The sound of the gunshot can easily come from a sound effect. The play steps out of its world many times and makes note of the fact that it’s only a play. A theatrical solution would not be out of place.

If you use anything approaching a ‘real’ gun (even a BB gun, a cap gun, or the like) I urge you ensure a certified firearms expert be present at all rehearsals and performances.

Make safety the number one priority in your production.

This incident should serve as a reminder that safety should be considered at every stage of the theatrical process. Here are some great resources to help you get started:

About the author

Craig Mason


  • My condolences go out to the family of the student. My school doesn’t allow the use of any gun fake or not. Until hearing of this sad incident I didn’t fully appreciate the rule. Although this is an abhorrent tragedy, I am hopeful that it will stop other occurences like its kind. Good job theatrefolk for spreading a message of safety and responsibility.

  • Thanks for commenting, Tabitha.

    The sad thing about the rule at your school is that it would preclude you from doing some very worthwhile shows (such as Power Play mentioned above). You’re not alone. We’ve heard from a great many schools who want to do Power Play but can’t even have a fake gun onstage.

    The slippery slope goes further – we’ve had administrations cancel productions of our play “The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note” because the word “suicide” is in the title. Rules like this come from administrations who don’t actually bother to read a play before banning it.