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Theatre Rigging Refit – Part 3

August 7th, 2012 No comments

The first stage of my rigging improvement program is complete – i.e. raising the upstage roll-drop support framework.

It took a lot longer than I expected to complete this stage, as a lot of time was spent tweaking and re-tweaking the alignment of the three support struts. I’ve also redone the hanging points for the existing ‘hemp’ line-set above the framework, and installed a new additional line-set. Lastly I’ve installed a length of Unistrut on the end wall, which will replace the timber rail that is still there at the moment.

Next the ropes and pulleys on the roll-drops themselves need to be replaced, and new cloth fitted, as there’s far too many layers of paint on the existing ones. After all that the roll-drops can be reattached to the support framework.

A lot to do before production begins on panto in another couple of weeks!

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Theatre Rigging Refit – Part 2

July 31st, 2012 No comments

I’ve made a reasonable amount of progress so far. The roll-drops are down, the fan heater is gone,  the cyc is now supported independently, and the Unistrut has been removed.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get the Unistrut refitted in its new position, and at the weekend I hope to get some new Unistrut bolted above the pin rail.

I need to try and get the place tidied up for a free hire that we’re giving on Tuesday, so I want to get as much completed as possible in the next five days.

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Theatre Rigging Refit – Part 1

July 23rd, 2012 No comments

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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Panto is finally over!

January 12th, 2012 No comments

This is ever so slightly overdue, but here it is anyway.

For the latter part of last year, it seemed that every spare minute I had was spent on various projects in preparation for Nairn Drama Club’s 2011 Christmas panto, i.e. fitting 32A sockets, relocating panel heaters, fixing 21 emergency lights, relocating audio amplifiers, PAT testing, designing and hiring/buying the lighting, planning and buying pyrotechnics, designing the sound effects, planning and buying video equipment, amongst other things… All of this wouldn’t have been too bad if I hadn’t managed to get a full time job in the middle of this! Anyway, it all worked out and the show went on.

Every year we try to improve on the last panto and this year for ‘Snow White’ we had two extra elements – video and pyrotechnics. The pyro was needed for a couple of magic spells, and the video was needed for the magic mirror.

This was the first time I’d used pyro in the theatre, as there are two key things against us – smoke detectors and low stage height. We did some testing very early on to see if we could use theatrical flashes for some magical effects, and to our surprise we found we could safely use the medium sized ones within the space we had available, as long as we isolated a couple of smoke detectors. Additionally for added effect during the walkdown, a Chinese Confetti Airburst was added.

The design of the magic mirror caused a degree of hassle, but eventually it was agreed to simply use a flat screen tv rather than to try and use front or rear projection, as the director originally wanted. All this then took was the purchase of a long HDMI cable and it was largely sorted.

The run of shows went well, and everybody said it was the best one yet! Will I do the panto again this year – who knows – I always say never again, but somehow end up doing it none the less!

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Life under the treads

August 1st, 2011 No comments

I managed to land a couple of weeks work at Eden Court Theatre, on the stage crew of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The work was fairly straight forward. On day one we had to unload three lorry trailers and assemble the complete set. For the next twelve days we did the actual shows. This involved sweeping, hoovering, and mopping the entire set before each show. In the first act I’d make sure the stage-left sheep ‘coffin’ rolled on and off stage without crashing into anything, then collecting a couple of camel heads. In the interval there’s the mad rush to get all of the confetti hoovered up, the gold chariot moved to the stage-left wing, the lamp-post prepared and the tread truck tested. Finally in act two I was one of the two people that lived under the blue steps (tread truck) that you see in the photo above, pushing it on and off stage as required. This simple task can get a tad surreal when the two smoke machines and four strobe surrounding us start going full blast! Another thing we had to do was get the previously mentioned lamp-post off the stage in a very, very short blackout. After the last performance there was then the mad rush to get everything disassembled and put back in the lorry trailers, ready for the whole process to begin again the following day at the Theatre Royal Windsor.

Overall it wasn’t a bad experience, although after 20 performances the songs do start to get to you! I’d certainly do it again if given the chance.

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