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Theatre Rigging Refit – Part 1

This month’s project is to sort out some of the rigging above the upstage area of The Little Theatre’s stage.

The existing upstage rigging consists of three pieces of Unistrut at 4m above the stage, from which are attached five roll-drops (also known as oleo or olio drops) which are used for back-drops.

I have a few issues with the current installation:

  • Firstly the tops of the roll-drops are below the level of the lighting bars, which means the border that is used to hide the rolled up drops casts a very noticeable shadow.
  • Secondly, and more importantly, the rope and pulleys that have been used up until now are far from appropriate.
  • Thirdly a number of the fixings used to suspend the Unistrut are less than ideal, i.e. Coach screws and M8 set screws, some of which are loose or just look rough because M10 nuts have been used as washers.

The ultimate goals of the project are to raise the Unistrut supports by 0.6m, taking them to about 0.5m above the lighting bars, and secondly to replace all the rope and pulleys on the roll-drops. The roll-drops already need new cloths, so we’ll be fitting larger ones anyway.

The current plan for the next few week is as follows:

  1. Order additional Unistrut, fittings and fixings.
  2. Completely remove the roll-drop assemblies from the Unistrut.
  3. Remove a 4KW fan heater that’s in the way on the SR wall.
  4. Install new supports for the cyc screen, as it currently hangs from the ends of the Unistrut, but it must remain at the current level.
  5. Remove the Unistrut and all associated studding (threaded rod) and fixings.
  6. Remove the pulleys that are used to install and remove the roll-drop assemblies from the Unistrut.
  7. Refit the Unistrut at 4.6m above the stage using M10 fixings through-out, with each set screw passing completely through each supporting timber, with a hefty 50mm washer on either end, complete with spring washer.
  8. Refit the pulleys so the roll-drops assemblies can be later raised back onto the Unistrut, but this time have two different mounting positions so it’s more of a vertical lift.
  9. Install Unistrut about 4.4m up the SR wall, above the pin rail using M10 Rawlbolts, so the new head blocks (pulleys) have something more solid than a piece of timber to be attached to.
  10. Replace pulleys and rope on the roll-drop assemblies.
  11. Raise the roll-drop assemblies back into place and attach to Unistrut.
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