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Striking the Set

Discussion in 'Safety' started by rosabelle334, May 28, 2008.

  1. rosabelle334

    rosabelle334 Member

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    Location:
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    Once its all said and done, and the curtain has dropped for the last time, how do you go about striking the set? My stage designer always says to start backwards, taking down what you built last. Any ideas? Any times when striking the set didn't really go as planned. (A.K.A testosterone-fueled teenager boys with sledge hammers pulling apart everything we planned to save and keep intact for future shows!)
     
  2. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    Location:
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    There are plenty of ways of doing it but the main thing to keep in mind is saftey.

    Don't let the boys with the sledge hammers knock away any braces to a piece of set before the crew are supporting it.

    Also it depends on your theatre and the particular set.

    Do you have a place you want to take the saved pieces like a scene shop ? If you do I would start clearing any set that makes access to the scene shop hard, if possible. It's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle in reverse.

    There things to think about when dropping a piece of scenery is do I have enough clear stage space to drop wall without it being damged because we can't lay it on the stage. I am thinking for an example is there a small rostrum on the stage which would catch the wall. So remove the rostrum.

    It is normally good to remove all the small stuff first before tackling the big stuff except where I mentioned gaining an exit to take stuff oput.

    If you want to keep particular pieces then print big " Keep it" notices on A3 paper and tape to both sides of what you want to save.

    Basically just walk around your set with a notepad and make a list in the order you think it should be done. Then review your list think about whether this piece supports that piece etc. Then re-arrange your list until you are happy with it.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
  3. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    We usually take off all the props and furniture and work backwards to the flats. Trim comes off as does any connecting dutch. Platforms usually go before the flats do. - that's for a box set. of course, it's different if you're doing a platform show.

    One time we did sheet rock walls (guest designer) and had a bunch of guys come in from the halfway house. They literally smashed the sheet rock from the set - it took us three days (and numerous moppings) to get all the crap off the deck.

    As Cutlunch suggests, I used to just take a walk around the set and decide what went first, then made the assignments as folks arrived. now, that's someone else's headache and just do what he tells me to. Strike is much easier now...
     
  4. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    Shop Foreman
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    not to start a whole sexist thing, but in our department the whole cast has to help with strike. Some chorus line girl will inevitably get her hands on a drill and start taking out every screw she sees, even if its the one holding the curtain line pulley to the floor. So its not just testosterone ridden boys.

    But as for how we do it, naturally everything is disassembled from the top down...usually. Again, a cast member (A guy this time) got a drill and started unscrewing the 45s from under and 8' platform while there were people standing on it.

    We keep most of the platforms (at least the decking and substructure) together for future use, as well as any stairs...there's not much use to stair stiles without any stairs.

    Because I'm usually in charge of strike, most of the stuff we use never gets thrown out. I'm of the mindset that anything we throw out will be needed in three days. But recently, I found a screw in one of the many Maxwell House coffee cans we have that was from a show we did four years ago. The head was stripped and filled with green paint and glitter from the Wizard of Oz, and it was bent at a 45 degree angle. It was then that I realized we needed to do some weeding out.

    Occasionally, if we have a really big set piece, multiple stories etc, we'll lay it down to disassemble using our the electric motors on our battens. Their WWL is rated at a couple thousand pounds so we use them to hoist and lower stuff on occasion.
     
  5. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    Also depends on whether it'll be used again. On tours, it's typically props and stuff loaded in to hampers or cases, set pieces, sound, lights and drops, then motors, rigging, etc. last. Costumes I don't count since they're usually not on the deck or wings.
     
  6. rosabelle334

    rosabelle334 Member

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    Ouch. The set crew takes an in-school field trip all day the monday after the show to strike the set. The cast comes in after school when everything is basically gone and away and all they are trusted with is moving and organized wood (with supervision!) and picking up all the spare screws and trash onstage and backstage.
     
  7. curtg

    curtg Member

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    Location:
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    I post a detailed plan stating what has to go and in what order. While it is hardly ever read, it gives me credibility as the leader. Leadership is what keeps things safe. No one is allowed to just start pulling things apart. I slow the eager beavers down by not letting anything be touched until after the group meeting where I discuss the plan and assign team leaders.

    My team leaders are the 'carpenters' who built the set. Teams will have a tool operator, a couple of holders, and movers. Ideally, the team leader will serve as a holder. 'Holder' is my term for those who keep things like flats from falling during assembly and disassembly. During teardown holders are the best position to direct the tool operators and movers. Tool operators are the kids (young and old) who have to run the screw guns. Movers carry the pieces off the stage for further processing areas or storage.

    I plan around avoiding conflicts with props, sound, and lighting. I assign areas where these crews can do their work. Generally, props and easily accessed sound and light equipment are removed from the stage before I hand out power tools. I also emphasize disassembling things on the ground. Hence, my teams will move wall sections to processing areas for further disassembly. Not only does this keep people off ladders, it gives me faster access to platforms.

    Set materials are organized and bundled before being moved into storage.

    The leadership challenge. Volunteers can not be ordered about. If you plan is not being followed, but your objective is being met, go with the flow. Be gracious, ask questions make suggestions. Chances are you will both learn something. Volunteers like to know the why behind the instructions.
     
  8. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    so true, if you have even the wrong tone in your voice, then people will just walk out. That's why my director has everyone sign a contract before the show is cast that if they receive a part in the show, they are obligated to attend strike.
     
  9. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
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    Hence the reson I always have at least two buckets on stage one labelled Hardware, one labelled Trash. Hardware bucket is for all the hinges, keepers, etc. the trash bucket is for torn up hinges, and screws. I have a a huge pet peave about used screws. Believe me I'm the biggest packrat in the world, I save everything and I believe it's a huge responsibility of our industry to do as much recycling as we possibly can, but I refuse to reuse screws. I throw them in with my steel recycling in the metal shop. once a drywall screw has been used once, it's neck has been subjected to enough torsional stress to cause it to fail the next time you try to drive it. I hate snapping off screws in my sets. Whew! cab you tell I hate re-using screws ?
     
  10. rosabelle334

    rosabelle334 Member

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    Well, usually their ok, if you're talking putting a regular 1 5/8 screw into something like pine and covering it with Gaffers tape, they come out ok for me. Its when you get into stuff that will strip the screw when you try and take it out - thats the problem.
     
  11. soundop

    soundop Active Member

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    Get as much down before the actors get back, we had 2 actors knock out load bearing supports on a 2 story building people were working on, the people on it jumped on the ladder as soon as they relized the now ex-actors didnt listen to them say stop, also i got a good chunk of my arm taken off due to a trash can that was thrown threw the air, so we take down as much as we can asap
     
  12. curtg

    curtg Member

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    I have gone in early to take apart difficult parts before the volunteers show up. It is a very good strategy. The catch is my job is to lead. When I pick up a tool I lose control. Safety depends on leadership.

    I am gracious when my objectives are being met contrary to how I would like the work to be done. It takes awhile for newbies to recognize that my system is more efficient. Most people really like working for me.

    I stop everything and throw a real fit if anyone does something dangerous. I let people see my anger, then I gather everyone around and restate the goals, emphasizing safety, and then I apologize for losing my temper, again emphasizing my concern for their safety. I then state to the guilty parties that I appreciate their efforts, that I want them to benefit from my experience, and they should work more closely with me.

    My 'tantrums' sober people up. I do not believe I have lost any volunteers. Rather, people like working for me because I am concern about them.
     

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