One of the main challenges that our venue presents us is that we do not have, what is called, a “full fly house.” This means that in the space above our stage there is only about four feet of space to hide any scenery elements or lights that we don’t want the audience to see. Normally, theaters have 30–60 feet of open space above the stage to fly things out of view.
The most interesting challenge that our team has overcome in the past few years relating to this obstacle was with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. The repertoire that Aspen Santa Fe Ballet had chosen required two different large scenic items to be hung for two different pieces.
During the first piece, Half Cut Split, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet had a backdrop that created a striking diagonal angle across the back of the stage. Below is an excerpt from this piece:
The second piece, Dream Play is an exploration into the imagination of the choreographers dreams. As such, they use creative floor choreography, a camera hung over stage, and a floating projection screen to communicate this experience to the audience. Below is an excerpt from this stunning piece:
As you can imagine, given the limitations of our space, this created a fun challenge for our technical staff to execute during the performance. Since we do not have the capability to simply fly the projection screen out of view, we had to do some creative rigging during intermission while our audience was reflecting on Half Cut Split or visiting the bar. Luckily, I was backstage during the second intermission where our team had to remove the projection screen and I was able to capture this short clip on video of them in action behind the curtain of a full house.
It’s interesting to note that the screen they are rigging weighs about 300lb and that same amount of weight has to be loaded and unloaded onto the other side of the flying rope as well to create a counterweight balance.
As a quick bonus—see the picture below from our technical rehearsal. In this picture you can see members of our staff working on aligning the overhead camera for Dream Play and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s amazing dancers waiting to rehearse.