Important rule for actors: Check your props before the show…
Yes, it should always be in the same place. Yes, someone else knows the track of your prop (though that also means that person knows the track of ALL actors’ props but whatever).
HOWEVER!! Shit happens. Things happen that may mean something interfered with the usual pre-show checklist. Crew members are at the theater working hard to make sure everything is ready for the performance.
Set pieces need repair, props need repair, props are being created from scratch, set pieces are being created from scratch, the stage needs additional care, and so on.
New things are thrown at us (the crew) on the daily if not hourly.
Yes, an actor has a lot on their plate for a show. However, part of that should be checking your props before the audience ever enters the building. NOT one minute before you go on.
This issue I speak of was a unique situation where a prop was being repaired by a professional and we had a backup to use in its place. Apparently they returned the prop to the actress and not to me (the one in charge of props).
The actress didn’t tell anybody the prop was returned and though I asked everyone who saw the person hired to repair the prop, none of them saw the prop.
So I put the backup in place (the setup takes a good amount of time) but literally one minute before she goes on, she realizes she never brought the prop from her dressing room.
Now, I need to be clear about something: Props should rarely be in dressing rooms. There are a few exceptions, but those are case by case exceptions.
The actress ran to her dressing room (in the theater, a good distance away) and when she made it back….it was literally the line she was supposed to enter on. I told her there was no time to change out the prop. She argued with me. But I wasn’t about to hold the show for this.
Anybut, she went on with the backup and was upset. Sorry, not sorry. I did let her use the repaired prop later in the show (even though it messed up the continuity, but whatever it was a dress rehearsal runthrough).
But on the plus side: She’ll never do that again.