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Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Pie4Weebl, Sep 4, 2008.
Question for you all, when did truss first start to show up in theatre? Points for citing sources.
Just a guess, but in the 1990's??????
Not going to answer, but am going to ask a question. Do you really mean theater or Rock&Roll?
theatre. And I actually do need an answer lol.
Your joking, right?
I recall trusses being used in the seventies for a play by some english dude. The play was called Hamlet, or something like that. I was told that the playwright also worked as a stage manager, or something like that. Anyways, I want to see if this guy has any lasting power.
The first time I saw truss used in a theatre was for the bus and truck tour of Starlight Express at the Chicago Theater in, probably, 1988. PRT, with two rows of six-lamp bars, only emerged around 1984. It was early 1970s when Chip Monck first took Rohn tower antenna truss and laid it on its side (today recognized as improper) to form horizontal lighting trusses for Rock&Roll. James Moody in his book Concert Lighting tells how Rock shows were not deemed "artsy" enough to play legitimate theaters, and so was relegated to sports venue that had no permanent lighting installed. Thus the repurposing of the CM Lodestar chain motor and lighting trusses as we now know them. Hope this helps.
that's what I needed to know, and I have got the book to back it up.
A designer wanted to have visble truss towers in the backstage area of a show set in 1909, and I was like um no. Now I have the proof I need
Moving this thread to "Theatre History," as it's really not QOTD material.
But not used as a stage lighting support structure till mid-70's and even then it was unusual. The use of antenna tower was only useful as pre-hang and cableing as it allowed the lighting tech's a somewhat quicker hang with fewer hoist points. The fixtures were still exposed underneath the truss and got banged around as a result. It wasn't till purpose built box truss was invented for the R&R industry (Thomas maybe ?) with 6 lamp Par bars in a recessed design, that truss use became the norm so mid-80's ?. At that point you saw HUGE time savings with the 6 lamp pre-wired bars, multi cables, joinable square truss, chain motors, dimmer-per-circuit, etc... You could now rig a 120 Plus lamp, in 2 x 50ft. wide trusses in an hour. Of course the time savings meant the LD's could now rig 300 plus unit plots.....
truss technology does date back in this country to railroad bridges built during the Civil War but onstage that technology did not appear until some touring acts of the 70's and 80's.
History of Truss in Theatre
So I'm writing a paper for class about one element of rigging, and what I'm writing about is truss. I already have most of what I need to write it, but I'm interested in talking a little bit about the history of truss in entertainment and how it came into use. If you know anything about when we started seeing truss in legitimate theatre in addition to concerts and tours, that'd be great too.
The other question is a little more specific. Does anyone know when the first FOH lighting trusses started appearing on broadway? I had one source that talked about the Nederlanders refusing to let the electricians cut holes in their beautiful domes, which means the older style of dead-hanging pipe didn't work, so someone finally put up a truss that could span the ~40' gap between points, and everything took off from there. But I don't have an approximate timeframe on that and I don't know which Nederlander house this was. Anyone know anything more?
Feel free to reply offline if you wish, or if you know anyone who I should talk to about this, please pass their name along. Thanks!
Re: History of Truss in Theatre
A Chorus Line was the very first to do this, AFAIK. They cut holes in the ceiling of the Shubert to mount the steel follow spot platform, as at that date there was no such thing as horizontal lighting truss and in any event it had to hold 5 follow spots or so plus operators. Tharon Musser insisted on incandescent spots and a steep angle. That was in '75. After that it was acceptable to hang in FOH. I'd bet Starlight Express had an FOH truss.
Possibly looking at the Broadway Lighting Archives would tell you something.
Note that this was Broadway NYC. Who knows what went on regionally
EDIT: There are 2 archives for lighting on the web - Theatrical Lighting Database and The Lighting Archive. Both are works in progress.
TLDb has ACL, Hair, Sunday in the Park and Fall River Legend for American Ballet.
Lighting Archive has Sweeny Todd, Porgy and Bess as well as some of Jean Rosenthals work.
I could not open the ACL light plot, but am aware of the front bridge.
Separate names with a comma.