Tri-fold legs for Bright Star - A Retrospective


Active Member
Sep 24, 2009
Des Moines, IA
Or: Why I love the third dimension and never want to fly flat flats again.

This post is mostly just to share, as I found these set pieces very satisfying. Tedious to build, but so much easier to set and strike than their two-dimensional cousins.

We originally designed these legs for Newsies, but like many productions in spring 2020, we canceled before we could get very far into construction. We'd built a prototype but had to shelve the plans. Fortunately, this spring's production of Bright Star gave us an opportunity to dust off the plans and try again. Our high school tech crew was excited to pick up where they left off last year.

Each tower is six 2x8 flats and three 2x4 flats, assembled as a trifold and stacked.


We built a jig on one of our worktables that allowed us to build the frames quickly and consistently. To keep weight down, we limited the wooden members to only those that were necessary for structure. Everything else was made from foam. This, unfortunately, meant everyone who came within arms reach of them needed to be trained and reminded that they were quite fragile. Wood glue and staples for the wood-to-wood joints, and gorilla glue for foam-to-wood. For foam-to-foam joints, we used toothpicks to strengthen the joints. We built a few decorative all-foam panels, and toothpicks worked great as cheap fasteners.

We used door hinges for the tri-folds, and now we have enough door hinges in storage to pull off a pretty intense "Scooby-Doo" chase scene montage.

The best part was standing them up. When folded into a triangle and tied closed with gaff tape or tie line, they are incredibly strong, and with one person footing the base you can raise them with three or four people walking it up. Once standing, one person can easily make minor adjustments. We got them into place, opened them to about 45-60 degrees open, and rigged them to battens overhead. They are quite stable on their own, so the rigging plus come floor brackets gave us some extra security in case they were bumped or jostled.

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Finally, dress the leg curtain behind them and stick an RGB Par in the base and you've got an awesome effect.


Looking forward to experimenting more large imposing structures in the future!

Bonus: Strike Timelapse:

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