Hello and welcome to the TECHIE’S CORNER. When last I wrote we were discussing fire. This month’s column will touch on “Fire the Old Fashioned Way”.
Fire has been a major problem in civilized urban areas as long as man has been civilized and urban. It has only been in the last century that man has found a source of light, other than flame, for lighting his world. Flame in the form of candles, torches, oil lamps, gaslight, limelight etc. When theatre began to emerge from the dark ages in the form of pageants, passion plays and miracle plays, gone were the stone and marble edifices of the Greeks and Romans. The permanence of great stone structures was reserved for cathedrals, castles, forts and palaces. Structures and buildings for spectacles, pageants and theatre were now built mostly of wood and of course, wood burns. In addition as theatre emerged in it’s own right the trappings of the stage were largely made of wood and canvas, costumes were large and voluminous, all combustible. Since that time, one of the most common forms of death and destruction in the theatre has been the result of fires.
Well, here we are again at the Techie’s Corner. This month, we will wind up our section on methods of creating fake fire for the stage with a brief discussion on torches, candles and lanterns.
Torches have been around, well, forever. In fact torches have been around longer than we have. Somewhere in the far distant past, one of our proto human ancestors picked up a burning branch from a wildfire and lit his way down the dark path to the future. The basic torch has changed very little since then. However, man, never satisfied with the basic model of anything, tried many variations and “improvements” along the way.
The first improvement was probably when some one discovered that a large pine knot full of hardened sap would burn longer than a plain branch. After that it would have been an easy step to experiment with other methods of making torches last longer. One early method was to wrap the head of the torch in a loose weave of plant fibers and then soak that in animal fat.
Techie's Corner As a continuation of last month’s column about "Rain On Stage", this month’s column will focus on water on stage. Specifically, water in sinks. Next month, I will wind up this topic with a discussion of other types of water such as hand pumps, fountains, waterfalls, pools, etc. The basics for water in sinks are the same 6 major areas of consideration as for rain. Supply, storage, delivery, recovery, control, and water quality. For an in depth definition and explanation of these six areas, check out last month’s column under TRE back issues, December ‘98.