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List of working Hemp Houses?

Discussion in 'Technical Theatre History' started by brucek, Mar 14, 2019 at 8:42 AM.

  1. brucek

    brucek Member

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    Does anyone know of any list of currently working hemp houses in the north east...or anywhere at this point?
    Thanks
     
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  2. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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  3. brucek

    brucek Member

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    Only for a few more weeks. Hugh will be retiring next month.
    and yes its an IA house
     
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  4. cbrandt

    cbrandt Well-Known Member

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  5. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    Until late last year the Pittsburgh Playhouse had 1 theater with a working hemp system. Building is now shut down and the university that owned it just opened their new PAC. Sad.
     
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  6. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    I don’t think there’s a master list - but through our collective power we could fix that.

    “True” professional hemp rig houses are becoming rare, but plenty of community and education spaces operate with hemp-like systems, even if they don’t use hemp.

    Ah, the Calumet! I made it up there a few summers ago. I love that place.

    There’s a hemp house that *just* installed a modern system but the name is escaping me at the moment.
     
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  7. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Unless they changed it recently and I didn't hear about it Cohoes Music Hall in Cohoes, NY still has one.
     
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  8. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    St Pete City Theatre, a 90 year old company in a 50's house, has a hemp pinrail. We moved things, in the 5 shows I worked there, *once*. :)
     
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  9. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @brucek Where were you hoping to go with this thread? I'd like to think many single and double purchase counter-weight houses utilize hemp, or similar, spot lines including multi-line spot line sets to add additional full width pipes between their single or double purchase counter-weighted line sets. I miss the old terms and calls; such as: Short short, short, short centre, centre, long centre, long and long long. (Naming and referring to the individual lines in a seven line set.) Calls such as: "Feet on!" and "Feet off!" when the flyman wanted stagehands to hold the pipe tightly to the deck while he took and equalized tension on all the individual lines within a given line set and then when he wanted them to stand clear while he lifted it approximately three or four feet off the deck and took a tie prior to the deck carps securing a drop, or whatever, to the pipe. One of the pains of real hemp was how humidity / moisture affected trims with the longer lines being affected more than the shorter lines resulting in not only changes in trim heights but pipes tilting at angles with reference to the deck. More modern line materials better resisted changes due to humidity / moisture content / temperature. Thanks @brucek for an interesting post sparking many happy memories. (but not the memories of festering slivers from dirty hemp) I don't much miss 100 pound sand bags and bag lines to grunt the bags a little to allow the flyman to re-trim the individual lines within a given line set.
    EDIT: In the days of wooden loft blocks, head blocks and sheaves we'd often put two head blocks next to each other to create a six or seven line set for heavier loads. If your venue was old enough you had wooden battens. Depending upon the width of your stage your battens may have been supported by anywhere from three to five lines. If you were going to be flying something appreciably heavier than normal and / or you were worried about the age and condition of some of your lines; positioning a three sheave head block immediately adjacent to a four sheave head block allowed you to create a seven part hemp set. Oh the days of wooden grids, blocks and sheaves.
    (I'll crawl back in my hole now.)
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019 at 6:13 AM
  10. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    @RonHebbard , you make an important point about hybrid spaces. My college’s theatre, built in 1974, has a mid level gallery with a hemp pinrail, in addition to about 35 standard counterweight sets. We used the heck out of the pinrail for single picks, side tabs, and regular line sets for bigger shows. I loved having that flexibility.
     
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  11. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @gafftapegreenia With two rows of pins, upper and lower: You often tied your 'in' trim on the lower row and your 'out' trim on the upper row. Cheaper, or less well planned, installations had only a single row of pins; you normally tied your 'in' trim on a pin and left it there neat and precise then tied your out trim on an adjacent empty pin if / when you had one. If / when you had no spare adjacent pins, you tied your 'in' trim neat and pretty then overhauled the piece out and tied your 'out' trim on the same pin on top of your 'in' trim without destroying its accuracy. I don't miss the festering slivers from dirty, grimy hemp. Thanks for the memories.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  12. brucek

    brucek Member

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  13. DrewE

    DrewE Member

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    I think the Town Hall Theater in Woodstock, VT is still mostly a hemp house (with synthetic rather than hemp ropes, as of about five years ago). When I volunteered there a bit while in high school it was excepting for the stage electrics that were on counterweighted line sets. In use, at least at that point, it may as well have been dead hung; there wasn't much if any actual flying of stuff going on. Perhaps the movie screen is also on some sort of a counterweight or winch system.

    It's a neat little community venue, in operation continually since it opened in 1900.
     
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  14. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    At this point Hemp and Manila should not be confused. Most of us have never laid a hand on actual hemp lines. I have often wondered just how they would compare with manila. Also I think most of these houses have moved on to synthetic lines of some sort. The term hemp in reality only refers to how these houses are rigged and operated.
     
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  15. brucek

    brucek Member

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    I am speaking rigging wise. I am assuming synthetic lines (I do not believe I have seen a new manila line installed in the last 30 years....and I would like to believe that 30 year old working lines would be changed by now). Having just hemp twine to go by, I would assume a hemp rope would be significantly less splintery than manila. I believe the hemp fibers are thinner than the manila so maybe the hemp rope would shrink less?

    This all started with a discussion about where the skill set needed to run a hemp fly can still be found...especially because much of the knowledge is very house specific.
     

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