Flangiprop, noun. From Latin “flange” [ridge] and combined with “prop” [an item used in theatre to support the play]. First use of the word occurred in 20th century English theatre*.

The workers hammered at the wooden boards, filing each one smooth and leveling it evenly with its comrades. It was only the other night that Miss Shaw had lost her footing on one crooked board, toppling rather more dramatically than needed into the arms of her on-stage love interest, and the theatre season was revving up soon.

People would shortly be swarming the doors and office in droves to take in fresh culture, to see and be seen – it would not do to have the play called off early due to poor workmanship within the building.

“Hey, Bobby,” cut through the tap-tap of hammers and men shuffling things around.

Bobby looked up from his position in the balcony audience seating – he considered it the best way to supervise, and as a bonus he got to select what would be the best seating when he did come to the plays.

“Yeah, Jim?”

“What’re these carvings in the floor? I know the things are for the actors to work with as they perform, but what do they do?”

Bobby leaned over, peering down at the lad. Jim was gesturing to a series of props tucked away on the dark sides of the stage – a vase, a table, a chair and vanity table. Each item was neatly slotted into small ridges carved into the flooring, ready to be brought on stage and used, or offstage and stored.

A place for everything, and everything in its place, his mother used to say.

“Those’re the flangiprops. They’re set just so, so’s when the actors need them the stage directors can get to them easily. See how there’s grooves in the floor? It’s so people know where to store them – put ’em in the same place, makes it easier to manage.”

Jim peered up at him, apparently awed by this new piece of knowledge.

“Flangiprop,” Bobby heard him mutter again.

As they finished up for the night, Bobby noticed that Jim put the furniture back with extra care.

*I don’t recommend you quote this in speeches, essays or Works Of Academia.


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