Kernsey

New Member
Hi Control Booth community. This is my first post so bear with me here, as I went to school for Music Technology and I am fairly new to theatre.

I was hired recently as the TD for a theater built in 1928, and last night one of the snakes of cable on one of my electrics battens had fallen to the stage floor after the rope holding it up had snapped. As you can imagine, this could have been a dangerous incident had there been people onstage. I've attached some pictures to illustrate the rigging we have going on. The first two pictures (IMG_6182 and IMG_6183) are electrics with ropes which have not failed yet and are still rigged the way they were originally. The last image (IMG_6184) shows the electrics that had its rope snap and has since been temporarily jerry-rigged so as not to interfere with the show today and keep everyone safe.

So here's my question: Is this a common/safe way to rig the cable hangs from electrics battens, or is there a better way I can do it in order to ensure the safety of the actors and actresses below?

Safety is my primary concern as the new TD here, so I want to incorporate the best safety practices in this old theater to the best of my ability.

What should I do?
 

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What Rigger?

I'm so fly....I Neverland.
What's up @Kernsey. Welcome to the Booth.

I'm gonna send up the Bat Signal to Ethan @egilson1, and Mike @MPowers (and anyone else I forgot) because they would probably be interested in this.

My initial look at this yields some "Wow." You've got some issues here. I would like for you to adopt this mindset now: if all the rope lines in question (and it looks like a mix of synthetic 3 strand, and natural fiber) were installed at the same time- a single failure probably predicts additional failures of the same type. In other words, you could be on borrowed time and there is definitely reason to think this hazard may happen again soon, and will endanger those in the workspace. You may be in need of some common, but very helpful gear like this:

JR Clancy Cable Cradle

Here's the problem with the internet, and a guiding principle of CB: we can't fully diagnose a rigging problem through photos. So we don't. We can't fully suggest solutions, so we don't. There's too much that could go wrong. What I would highly recommend is an inspection of your system, especially given your limited skillset in this area. Depending on your organizations status/nature (school? non-profit? community/city owned?) we can almost definitely point you toward people we know who can get to you.

So...hit us up with more info on your location, your organization, and where you are (about 50 miles from Columbus?) and we can get you on the path to fixing this.
 

derekleffew

Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Premium Member
Some things just cannot be diagnosed properly over the internet. "Why the rope snapped" needs to be determined ASAP. Call Schell Scenic Studios, or Tiffin Scenic Studios, for a rigging inspection immediately. Be prepared to pay a not-insignificant sum.

EDIT: Posted simultaneously with the above.
(and anyone else I forgot) because they would probably be interested in this.
@Ted jones
 

Kernsey

New Member
All,

That's exactly right, it is the Marion Palace Theatre, and we are a non-profit in Marion Ohio. The possibility of the same issue happening again is precisely why I started this thread. Thank you guys for your quick responses!

@What Rigger? We do have those JR Clancy Cable Cradles, however they were essentially used as the point of suspension on the other end of the rope. It seems as though the people who rigged this mess had suspended the excess cable from the batten in order to allow the batten to be flown in and out while not creating any stress on the cables. I knew I was going to be right in thinking that it was done improperly!

@derekleffew Thank you for those references. I will be sure to call those guys ASAP.

In the meantime, you guys wouldn't happen to have images of proper, professional solutions on other rigging systems, do you? I think that might help me get a grasp of what needs to be done. Isn't there some way I can support or organize the cables by using the grid above the stage?

Thanks again you guys. This is extremely helpful!
 

Ben Stiegler

Well-Known Member
And here's a cheery thought for you, Kernsey: Quite often, when there are safety compromises in one area, you will find them in others (beyond rigging) as well. Test your circuits for proper grounding. Check that your speakers are not suspended by baling wire (I kid you not, I found a venue like that here in SF Bay Area with large Community 3 way cabinets thusly hung, and gosh if they weren't way less concerned than I was about it). Perhaps ask the fire marshal to come over and check things with you. Its not my area of particular expertise, but I understand draperies need to be re-treated with fire retardant periodically and that's something which I think gets ignored for convenience, lack of knowledge, or budgetary challenges. Keep us posted - we are your friends and neighbors, and some of us probably live close enough to drop by and help.
 

Ben Stiegler

Well-Known Member
PPS - looked at your website tech specs. Great detailed listing - I'd suggest also adding a house repertory lighting plot which is much easier to grok that all the verbiage
 

Kernsey

New Member
@Ben Stiegler Thank you for that information! For the past 3-or-so weeks that I've been employed here, I've been exploring as much of the facility as I can with a primary goal of safety in mind. Knowing this theater is on the National Register of Historic Places certainly means there is plenty to upgrade or improve. I might try to start a thread on here to habitually update my hazardous findings... Nevertheless, I'm sure I'll have more questions and will ask for suggestions in the future.

In response to the "house lighting plot", I think that's a great idea! As I've mentioned, I'm new to the theatre scene, so I'm doing my best to find out things like that which I could employ in this charming old place. Lighting is also not my strong suit, so I was hoping to learn a lot more by joining this site as well.

Thanks!
 

What Rigger?

I'm so fly....I Neverland.
Okay, here's what might be helpful too: cable guides (sub out the chain in the photo for your lift lines that raise/lower your battens).
proxy.php
 

egilson1

Senior Team
Senior Team
CB Mods
Premium Member
So looks like you’ve got the traditional hemp spot line for the cable picks. And as my esteemed colleagues have mentioned it looks like the one that failed might have been a Manila rope (naturals fiber). The system itself is a solid manner to do the cable pick. I would rush to spend money to change the fundamental design. But I would spend the money to get an inspection done to see if the other lines need replacement and to replace the broken one with a good synthetic rope like Multiline 2.
 

Kernsey

New Member
Thank you all for the continued support. This is a huge gray area for me, so all this help is truly teaching me a lot.

I've called the local rigging experts that @derekleffew suggested, and I've been given the green light from my boss to schedule an inspection. I'll be sure to bring up that cable guide that @What Rigger? mentioned as an option during the inspection.

So it sounds like hemp spot lines are/used to be a standard way to hang cable like this, is that right @egilson1 ? I'm definitely going to try changing the fundamental design, considering since one failed then the others are inevitably bound to follow. I may update you guys after having an inspection done.
 

egilson1

Senior Team
Senior Team
CB Mods
Premium Member
I'm definitely going to try changing the fundamental design, considering since one failed then the others are inevitably bound to follow. I may update you guys after having an inspection done.

The basic concept is still used in theaters, concerts, etc….I don’t think that’s your issue. The issue was an old rope that was natural fiber and eventually failed. So simply replacing the others will eliminate the potential of failure in the future.

The inspection will tell you the specifics and offer the best solution to those issues.
 

Kernsey

New Member
Wow, this guy sounds very intriguing! Thanks for the link up. It'd be cool to learn a thing or two from someone who works in such an old theater.
 

josh88

Remarkably Tired.
Fight Leukemia
Wow, this guy sounds very intriguing! Thanks for the link up. It'd be cool to learn a thing or two from someone who works in such an old theater.
I’m just seeing this post now, you’re doing follies at the moment right? I’ve got a good friend in that show. I’m in Toledo (and moving to cleveland) but have family in Columbus and get that way pretty often, so I might be able to swing by sometime if you need someone to pop in and look at anything.
 

Kernsey

New Member
I’m just seeing this post now, you’re doing follies at the moment right? I’ve got a good friend in that show. I’m in Toledo (and moving to cleveland) but have family in Columbus and get that way pretty often, so I might be able to swing by sometime if you need someone to pop in and look at anything.
Yeah we were doing follies recently, which is why I didn't see your reply earlier! My head was spinning at that time. I would've loved to meet you, as I always enjoy making connections.
Since my last post on this thread, I've replaced that spot line with a new poly rope which should be adequate for the job. I'm truly still surprised that the previous TD didn't address the old hemp rope that was used before, as these cradles are heavy! I think my problem has been resolved now, and I'm having Tiffin Scenic do an inspection sometime soon, so I may post about that in the future. Thanks for the help everyone!
 

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