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Upstage galleries

Discussion in 'Technical Theatre History' started by BillConnerFASTC, May 11, 2018.

  1. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL (708)983-5792
    Toured a 1920s theatre today. Vaudvile house. Narrow building. No evidence of left or right galleries. Pjnrail at stage level. Wood walk on grid. And an upstage gallery/catwalk.
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/pMLG3xgExpVGt4yE3

    IIRC, these had a specific lighting or production function. Anyone refresh my aged and addled brain?
     
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  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @BillConnerFASTC Since no one else is rushing to contribute I'll mention the following: The theater we installed 'Sunset Boulevard' in on Broadway had all of their single purchase counter-weight carriages muled to the up stage wall. As you walked the width of their up stage fly-floor catwalk you passed all of the odd numbered line-sets followed by roughly a 15' wide arbor holding approximately 40,000 pounds of counter-weights to counter-balance the 40,000 pound flown raked two story mansion complete with several LX pipes within its flown raked floor to light scenes played beneath it both while it was flown out of sight and also while it was hovering with scenes being played simultaneously within the two story mansion as well as beneath it and finally you walked past all of the even numbered single purchase sets. The mansion was flown from 6 cables, I believe each cable was 1.25" running over sheaves approximately 2 feet in diameter on a tertiary grid two levels above the theater's original grid. Our shop built and installed the 'On the road' automated fly-piece which from memory weighed in at approximately 11,000 pounds. Normally if you show up with an 11,000 pound fly-piece you're bringing the heaviest fly-piece in the production but not so with 'Sunset'. At 11,000 pounds the 'On the road' piece was third in line behind the 14,000 pound 'pool surround' and the 40,000 pound / 20 ton flown and tracking two-story mansion. The mansion not only flew but tracked up stage / down stage both while appearing to be resting on the deck and also while hovering atop scenes beneath it. The mansion was an excellent trick. Basically Feller Precision were flying the world's largest automated drawer slides and the two-story mansion was the drawer. I got to install our shops part of the full-bore 'Sunset' three times; Broadway, Toronto and Vancouver, and NEVER tired of it due to the caliber of gear and people I was working with. During the Broadway install I was told Peter Feller Senior had been consulted about the methods and feasibility of installing a set like 'Sunset' at some point in the future and in the case of this one particular theatre it was Pete Feller Senior's decision to omit the traditional catwalks from both sides of the stage in favor of muling all line-sets to the up stage cross-over catwalk. We were given a three day window in their lengthy load-in schedule to get our automated piece in, up and tested. We were pretty organized and were complete in our first 8 hour day plus only 2 hours of our second day. Time is ALWAYS money and even more so on Broadway. You can't buy time but the producers were more than thrilled when our piece effectively bought them 1.75 days of unanticipated free time at non-overtime rates. The rest of my Canadian crew-mates, along with the owner of our shop, spent their free time eating sushi and bar-hopping on Broadway. Moi, total abstainer that I am? I spent ALL of my free time touring their theater from basement, which was three stories above street level, all the way to their secondary and tertiary grids. The mansion was the only piece flown from the upper-most grid with our 11,000 pound piece and the 14,000 pound pool surround being pretty much all that was hung on the secondary grid. Everything else hung from the theater's original grid. You don't get many opportunities to see and appreciate theatrical rigging on that scale. I suspect it's not covered on most university curriculums.
    Edited to mention the Broadway theater which housed 'Sunset Boulevard' was the Minskoff.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
    .
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
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  3. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @BillConnerFASTC The only other specific function I've seen was for the painting of drops. Users would hang their drop on their most up stage pipe facing up stage and begin painting while standing behind their drop. The drop would be gradually flown out and its bottom piped for weight to keep it flat, wrinkle free and under tension. Scenic painters would work both from deck level as well as the up stage cross-over catwalk flying the drop out as required to conveniently reach and paint. When dry the drop would be lowered, removed, reversed to face down stage and rehung on a desired pipe or in some cases in a different venue lacking vertical painting facilities.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
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  4. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Only permanent rig I’ve seen like that was to anchor the staircase for Man of LaMancha.

    Never saw one in a few months of touring either, back in the day.
     
  5. JonCarter

    JonCarter Well-Known Member

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    First thing I thot of was a paint gallery. (But the stagehouse looks like my high school auditorium!)
     

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