Rant: Dangerous Flying and Unsafe Practices


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I'm currently working on a production at another high school in my district. We're using hanging mics, the lighting design is extravagant, and there is a lot of drapary for this show. So, there is a lot of flying going on. Lately I've been hanging mics on the grid, and students aren't even calling lines properly. There aren't audible to the whole stage and surrounding areas, quite frankly it scares me. I'd like to bring up this to the TD. Yesterday I just barely heard a call that a line was coming up midstage. There are just under twenty lines or so at this venue. Thats a good 6-10 lines at midstage, "WHICH ONE?!!!!". And I'm standing directly above the line right next to it's cables. On top of it all I have a hanging mic in my hand. The students aren't even watching the mic and they just knocked it off axis. They were flying the line way too fast, and it smacked the the portion of the grid directly under me. It's scary as hell that they don't even pay attention to the "Man on the Grid" or "Clear the rail" rule. The TD allowed flying but students would have to call it all out and get approved by everyone on stage and up above including the grid.

Another thing I noticed...I was making my way up to the grid when I noticed three students unloading on the load rail. First of all, they were two students not on the rail, they were standing over the arbors with one leg on the exterior of the rail and one on the opposite side. I personally along with someone assisting me could have easily unloading the arbor without even remotely coming close to the drastic measures these individuals were taking. Second, it took two students to lift a single weight. The only student who was on the rail taking the weights could barely lift the weights, she had to actually use the rail's railing to actually support the weight. Two students should not combine efforts to lift a single weight while lifting over a rail. While it may be easier, if one slips the other better have God-like grip because those weights are heavy and generally are fairly slippery. Thirdly, there were people on stage near the rails. They did not even request to clear the rail. About human strength...I'll admit it, I'm a pretty scrawny guy to begin with, those things can wear me out pretty badly and being up so high knowing you could drop a weight at any moment can be intimidating. I stop when I feel the slightest doubt of anything. I'll switch off with who ever is assisting and hold the locks and readers above. If you cannot lift an arbor weight without any add ional support you should no be loading or even flying for that matter. After all these dangerous measures taken, they were resting on the circular stairs and sitting on each other and goofing off.

Quite frankly, this all scared the @%#@&$% out of me! I would prefer not work with these people if they are going to take such dangerous measures. These people will suddenly forget the difference between upstage and downstage when calling out an action, and then correct themselves while actually implementing an action. You should be watching while you fly and none of these kid's watch, that's the whole point.

Does anyone ever experience this? These people should be picking up trash with their rigging and stagecraft skills. It's dangerous as all hell. Fortunately I do not need to be in those situations anymore, all thats left to do is just mix the show. But I do notice changes to where our mics are hung occasionally. For example this morning I noticed our mics were on the other side of a teaser and were pushed futher down stage. We had to fly the teaser out and pull it futher upstage to get the mic back into position. We strictly setup up our mics out of the way of all the flying lines, but they're always pushing things around and it throws things off. I hope no one here does what these people do. Always practice safety.
Anyone can call a stop to the work being done when un-safe. In fact, anyone doing so that recognizes a fault should. Not a lot of our past posts about some global truss collapse or injury which could have been prevented by someone speaking up. Such rules as anyone can call a stop to unsafe practices especially to the fly system much less the requirement of a qualified at least supervisor in using it is a necessity universal in most places. The lack of it in your school is at very least within your TD’s (no matter what school you are from) supervision and responsibility if not also your’s in knowing better but not preventing the practice. What you say about clear the rail, not operating a fly system with someone in the grid, much less a line 12 coming in call but waiting for everyone to say ok or something on the stage in looking for it and stopping work while waiting for it is normal. Along with being able to lift the weights and if absolutely necessary to climb the safety rail, also having fall protection.

In talking to the TD, printing up what you did should be sufficient to cite specific examples of the necessity for supervision and training, much less re-tasking of people. This along with any responses or recommendations you might get from your post by others.
Exactly, this stuff isn't a tuff at all. It's basic laws of the theater. It's horrible that only my crew were the only ones who actually saw the whole situation on the loading rail. And no, there was no fall protection gear being used. No one below knew what was going on. Ughhh.
yea.. as for the line in line out.. there were lines going up and down when we were painting the set and i never heard antyhing. And as for the way you describe the unsafe weighting.. yea i agree.. i was helping jaffe one day and he was doing it like that.. so if you talk to him thats not gonna help because thats how he does it. I noticed all that stuff. We may have had schoons at SCHS and he may have been seen as a slacker but not when it came to that kind of stuff. Also we get in a lot of trouble if we dont announce line in or line out at schs.. even at theater class sammi and i were bringing in the projection screen and she said line in and it wasnt loud enough and we got yelled at. I think u should talk to jaffe about it. He is all about doing everything "just right'
Jaffee is experienced he nows what he is doing, I trust his judgement. I once was lifting a boom with 5 fixtures on it along with someone assisting me, he actually requested that we get another person next time. I thought it was a bit crazy, but I completely understood what he meant. He has worked in professional theaters for years, he is a master carpenter, he knows what he is doing. He has tons of rigging skills, he can tie more kinds of knots blind that you can name off the top of your head. But as for the students, that's a no-no. Those kid's don't know what they're doing, and plus the whole organization is liable for them, unlike Jaffee.
Yes, Jeff is totally correct. Jafee has a degree in technical theatre, he is up on all of his OSHA codes and would never approve of some of things that have been going on with some certain people which I will not name. When flying or doing any type of rigging, there is more to do than simply "calling a line." It is an art, and there are many many books written about it and you don't become good at it over night or master it while just in high school. I don't want to come of mean....I am just stating the facts. Master of the obvious.
i dont mean anything bad about jaffe, i like him, maybe im not gettin exactally what you were saying, but it is a bit dangerous how he takes the weights off.
What unsafe fly practices have you witnessed? Just curious, I haven't been around him that much for rigging/set. I have just met with him for production meetings and usually when we talk, it is regarding my audio design for the show and any comments/questions/complaints.
i dont feel it is unsafe that he does it, but i feel it is unsafe when other students do it. And i have never seen other students do it, but it seems by what jeff is saying. I first met jaffe during wizard of oz, then he took over for schoon after he left, then i worked with him for set. No i have done barely any rigging with him.
Jaffe is an amazing carpender, also very patient. I put together a platform which at schs would be considered great.. well haha, it had to be taken apart because it ended up bieng like 1/2 centemeter wrong. but yea he knows how to do all that stuff. you can find the smallest tool, and he will know exactally what it is and size or whatever by just looking at it.
and i know there is more to rigging than just calling it, but that is what you were talking about in your first post.

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