Double staircase design

Jon Majors

Active Member
My director wants us to build something very similar to the photo below. A double staircase on either side of a balcony (probably 11' tall or so). Large double doors underneath the balcony. What are some tips you would recommend? From the staircase, to the doors, to the ornate spindles. Obviously it will need to be build i our set shop and brought on for the run of the production (3 performances).

Screen Shot 2022-01-03 at 6.46.34 PM.png
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
My director wants us to build something very similar to the photo below. A double staircase on either side of a balcony (probably 11' tall or so). Large double doors underneath the balcony. What are some tips you would recommend? From the staircase, to the doors, to the ornate spindles. Obviously it will need to be build i our set shop and brought on for the run of the production (3 performances).

View attachment 22551
@Jon Majors Diagonal bracing is your friend. Diagonal braces installed in opposing pairs and through-bolted where they overlap are your BEST friends.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

JonCarter

Well-Known Member
This is a fairly straight-forward piece of construction, but it will cost you in time and material $$$., and more if the stairs are curvd. (Can't tell from the photo.) Three perfs? What is your budget? How big is the house? What are your ticket prices? This set may cost you more than the show makes. Speak w/your director.

On the other hand, if the point is "do it this way" and "$$ is no object" (love that phrase--never heard it in real life tho), then go for it.
 

Catherder

Well-Known Member
If you don’t have it, I’d look for a copy of Stock Scenery Construction Handbook. It’s got a whole chapter on stairs - different configurations, rise/run math, bracing, dependent vs independent units. Plus it’s just a great book to have around.

 

egilson1

Senior Team
Senior Team
CB Mods
Premium Member
One option is this style of stair framing. There is additional framing needed to stabilize it, but this shows the general idea.
 

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RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
My director wants us to build something very similar to the photo below. A double staircase on either side of a balcony (probably 11' tall or so). Large double doors underneath the balcony. What are some tips you would recommend? From the staircase, to the doors, to the ornate spindles. Obviously it will need to be build i our set shop and brought on for the run of the production (3 performances).

View attachment 22551
@Jon Majors
Queries:
- What's the load on the balcony?
- How many performers at any instant??
- Standing still???
- Walking????
- Wrestling; best two out of three falls?????
- Energetic, rhythmic, choreography??????
- Can you fasten to the stage deck???????
- Is this built in situ once and remains in place for the entire three performance????????
- Tell me it's not part of a quick scene change during a blackout?????????
EDIT #1 (To add additional queries): @Jon Majors (Me again).
- Is it safe to assume performers will enter &/or exit via the upper pair of doors??????????
- Are there escape stairs behind the upper pair of doors???????????
- Is it safe to assume the lower pair of doors need to open as part of the performances????????????
- Will you be including durable, functional, safe and sturdy, banisters on your visible stairs?????????????
- Will you be including durable, functional, safe and sturdy hand rails on your escape stairs??????????????
- Will you be carpeting your escape stairs to minimize unwanted off stage noise???????????????

Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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StradivariusBone

Custom Title
Fight Leukemia
Maybe this will give you some ideas on the framing. This set I designed for Rock of Ages is a similar concept, we put the band on stage under the "bridge". I've done this concept with platforms on sticks as well, but I tend to prefer stud walls vs. compression legs. For one, the sheathing becomes your crossbracing and two it's easier to level. For the decking, we just used stock 4x8 platforms on the studwalls.

For the curved steps, we had two units we kept from Anything Goes several years ago, but they are the same design that @egilson1 posted. To make the treads, you can draw out the curve of your stairs on a sheet of plywood (make a really big compass) and then cut the strips out.

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microstar

Well-Known Member
My director wants us to build something very similar to the photo below. A double staircase on either side of a balcony (probably 11' tall or so). Large double doors underneath the balcony. What are some tips you would recommend? From the staircase, to the doors, to the ornate spindles. Obviously it will need to be build i our set shop and brought on for the run of the production (3 performances).
11' seems like a VERY tall platform for this. The platform in your photo is probably no taller than 8' at most. A taller platform will mean quite a few more steps needed on both sides and more time needed
for actors to navigate. Something to consider.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Here's a curved stair unit we did once. Maybe not much help because ours had to be open under, so steel.
@kicknargel What are the small bulges at the bottoms of the vertical supports?
Were they micro adjustable for precise levelling??
Merely to enlarge the contact area to lessen point loading???
Or????
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Crisp image

Well-Known Member
Every theatre company should have a set of stairs. Depending how you build them depends how they can be used.
20160817_093314.jpg

The stairs come in 2 parts and can have the 60deg trun taken out to make one long set. The centre was made up of 1200mm Sq frames and then had timber I beams to span the 2400mm gap. Allowing for doors under for entry and exits. The centre unit spun around and had another set of stair on the back. Caster wheels rated at 250kg ea.
20160821_180644.jpg

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Overall when together the total dimensions were 10.6m long 3.5m high to the top of hand rails and 3.5 deep. Could move the whole thing with 2 people but 4 was better. The stairs disconnected from the centre and that could move independently. We had 8 on top and 3 on each stair set IIRC.
Built for Addams Family 4 show season.

Regards
Geoff
 

StradivariusBone

Custom Title
Fight Leukemia
1641391157778.png


I like the engineered beam for the span there! I would guess longer spans would be possible for less than you'd spend in joists.

The other comments about height are spot on. In addition to extra costs of lumber to go higher, we eventually run out of ways to throw light on things if they get too high.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
The other comments about height are spot on. In addition to extra costs of lumber to go higher, we eventually run out of ways to throw light on things if they get too high.
That's another reason we went lower. Grid height was only about 18' in that space (a black box). Going up to 10 or 12 feet would have had the lights in people's hair.
 

kicknargel

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
@kicknargel What are the small bulges at the bottoms of the vertical supports?
Were they micro adjustable for precise levelling??
Merely to enlarge the contact area to lessen point loading???
Or????
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
I'm afraid that's just decorative trim. Not sure what it's doing on that drafting plate.
 

Crisp image

Well-Known Member
View attachment 22560

I like the engineered beam for the span there! I would guess longer spans would be possible for less than you'd spend in joists.

The other comments about height are spot on. In addition to extra costs of lumber to go higher, we eventually run out of ways to throw light on things if they get too high.
Yes and they are light in weight but strong. I can pick up one beam in each hand and carry them around the shop. These ones are 200mm high but you can get other sizes. This size makes a good step height which was our last step up.
 

Jon Majors

Active Member
@Jon Majors
Queries:
- What's the load on the balcony?
- How many performers at any instant??
- Standing still???
- Walking????
- Wrestling; best two out of three falls?????
- Energetic, rhythmic, choreography??????
- Can you fasten to the stage deck???????
- Is this built in situ once and remains in place for the entire three performance????????
- Tell me it's not part of a quick scene change during a blackout?????????
EDIT #1 (To add additional queries): @Jon Majors (Me again).
- Is it safe to assume performers will enter &/or exit via the upper pair of doors??????????
- Are there escape stairs behind the upper pair of doors???????????
- Is it safe to assume the lower pair of doors need to open as part of the performances????????????
- Will you be including durable, functional, safe and sturdy, banisters on your visible stairs?????????????
- Will you be including durable, functional, safe and sturdy hand rails on your escape stairs??????????????
- Will you be carpeting your escape stairs to minimize unwanted off stage noise???????????????

Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
All great questions! I'll try and answer to the best of my ability!
- Not sure load right now of balcony - there will need to be at least 2 people standing simultaneously. Also, with flats forming the back wall/doorway
- Performers will need to be able to walk across balcony - no dancing
- Tricky part is it cannot be built in place but will remain there during tech week and all 2 performances
- There needs to be escape stairs from the back of the balcony
- The doors underneath the balcony will need to open for entrances/exits
- All stairs will include durable, functional, and safe handrails/banisters
- Escape stairs will likely not have carpeting. but may
 

Jon Majors

Active Member
This is a fairly straight-forward piece of construction, but it will cost you in time and material $$$., and more if the stairs are curvd. (Can't tell from the photo.) Three perfs? What is your budget? How big is the house? What are your ticket prices? This set may cost you more than the show makes. Speak w/your director.

On the other hand, if the point is "do it this way" and "$$ is no object" (love that phrase--never heard it in real life tho), then go for it.
~ $5,000 budget. I would like the stairs to be curved. I'm currently looking for a great tutorial.
 

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