Monday, August 5, 2013

Quick-Rig Drapes

The beginning of Invasion at Silk Road Rising is supposed to look like an Arabian Nights Arab cliche. We're talking draped colorful fabric, palm trees, and maybe lush fringed cushions. We also needed everything to disappear quickly as the illusion is shattered. For palm trees and cushions that is easy. For draped fabric that needs to be re-rigged by the run crew each night before the show, and torn down during the show by "angry" actors, it was a bit of a puzzle. 
Our awesome and easy solution was this,
That picture, if you can't tell, is a standard wooden clothespin, pressed onto a sticky Command Strip
In case you somehow have never used these, they're amazing. I use the hooks all the time to add places backstage for actors to hang a prop or costume quickly. And they work exactly as advertised, pull down on the strip to stretch and remove and it leaves no residue. Be sure to check the label when you buy. Different strips are rated for different weights

The clothespins easily clip onto the ends of the fabric and hold them in place, but the hold is loose enough, that a slight tug down releases the fabric from the clothespins and allows it to be quickly removed and dragged offstage. 
We have had problems with some of the clothespins twisting and breaking (because the pins were cheaply made) but the rig is so easy to take down and redo, the best solution was just to give the run crew plenty of spare pins and command strips. If one breaks our ASM is easily able to replace it while rigging the fabric up the next night. 
As a side note, this beautiful fabric is actually Indian sari fabric, purchased at an Indian fabric store in the Devon neighborhood in Chicago. The woman at the store was incredibly helpful, but the pricing can be confusing. The sari fabrics are on rolls mostly, but the pricing is by sari. Each sari is roughly 6 yards long. The more you know...


  1. One trick I've used that is similar is to use binder clips. You can get them in different sizes depending on how much they need to hold. Put some gaff tape on their jaws so they pinch the fabric a bit less, but the best part about them is that you can use a screw and washer or a bolt to secure them to a piece of wood. I find that is much more secure than the command strip for something that is going on stage.

  2. Binder clips are a great idea for the same trick. We had to resort to the command strips for ours because we were not allowed to screw into the beams overhead. Also, I think some of the beams are made of foam.

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