Sunday, July 09, 2006

Hanging lights with St. Louis Shakespeare

I spent most of my day today helping the St. Louis Shakespeare Company hang lights for their upcoming production of Ovid's Metamorphoses. They work in the Grandel Theatre, which is on Grand, just north of the Fox. The theatre's lighting grid is absolutely awful. There is no metal grating next to the hanging positions to walk on. Instead, someone put a whole bunch of two-by-sixes over top of the support structure for the grid. But they didn't bother to fasten them down. So when you're up in the grid, you're simply walking around on a whole bunch of loose boards, 50 feet above the stage floor. The boards are uneven, and being loose, can be easily moved. So it's easy to trip, and as people shift the boards around to make room for lights, giant gaping holes can open in the floor. Not only that, but as I was working, I noticed that one of vertical support struts, which was supposed to be supporting the weight of the grid, was loose. So loose, in fact, that when I tried to tighten it, it simply came unfastened in my hand. Luckily, the lighting grid didn't come crashing down, but it certainly doesn't inspire great faith in the safety of the theatre. Not only that, but some of the lighting positions aren't even over the boards. They're just sticking out into space. So to hang a fixture on them, one person has to haul the light into the air with a rope, while the other person hangs the fixture one-handed, since his other hand is clamped in a death grip to the nearest solid object, and only his hand is preventing him from pitching headfirst off the grid into the seats below. That person, this time around, was me.

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