Styrofoam can be cut and shaped into lots and lots of shapes. you can carve it with sharp razor blades, electric carving knives, hot wire cutters, saws of various types and you can also use your fingers.

Home Depot sells Styrofoam building insulation is 2x8 sheets. I try to always have a couple of sheets around. They are just that handy. We use them for building models, adding spacers to the counterweight system and more.

Turn tables have been used in theater for a very long time. They allow for quick scene changes. They can be effective in adding movement to the show. On Broadway, a great example of turn table use is in the musical, Les Mis. They use the table to allow the actor to walk, but stay in one place. 

The most interesting turn table I've worked on is the one built into the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The turntable is built across three elevators. All three elevators must be at the same level.

Click read more for more! 

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This article is by G. Patrick McCreary. He was my TD at Bennington over 30 years ago. Patrick wrote this while TD at Indiana University of PA in 2013.

It has been my experience over the past 25 years or so that "DURON", a product of The Masonite Corporation, makes an excellent surface for working stage floors. Here at Indiana University of PA, we use a Duron surface for our main venue, and use the same material on most of our stage decks, usually on top of a layer of ½" Homasote . Duron, however, is no longer available as a product name – the best you can do is ask for 1/4” double-tempered hardboard. I would want to see a sample before I placed my order.DURON3

Our Mainspace floor, roughly 50' X 75', is heavily built on, often re-configured, and abused at least four times a year - we replaced the entire top layer three years ago, after 11 years.

What do all those little lines mean anyway. A closeup look at the markings of a standard U.S. tape measure. Inch lines, 1/2" 1/4" 1/8" and 1/16" lines are explained.

Click on the picture to start the movie.

Also an answer to that burning question: "why is the hook on the end of my tape measure loose?"

Asking a student to cut a piece of wood exactly in half will require a fraction. At least one. Remember? It's the kerf from the saw. Kerf defined is the part of the wood that turns into saw dust. Depending on the saw, it could be anywhere from a 16th of an inch up to 3/16ths of an inch.

First we need to teach the basic use of the tape measure. Since writing this entry, years ago, I've created the video shown here. Amazing the YouTube didn't exist when I wrote this entry. In the video I cover some simple fractions using the lines within the inches. In the classroom
 I draw an enlarged view on the board. A huge inch. It includes each little line within the inch. Some small, some big. Take a close look at your tape measure. The biggest lines are for the full inch. The next longest line is for the 1/2", then 1/4", the 1/8th and finally 1/16". having this on the board will assist the students. They should also have this written down. Letting the student employ the smallest set of lines, and simply counting how many 16ths are involved in the measurement, will simplify their project.

Flats come in various forms and sizes. A flat is a fake wall. If you look around you, you will see walls that are solid, usually made out of wood or plaster, and go from floor to ceiling. Some walls have holes in them. A door is a hole in the wall. So is a window.

How to build a flat. Let me start at the beginning.

What is a flat? It's a fake wall. It can be any size you wish. Look at a wall in the room you are in now. What size is it? Most likely it's between 8 and 10 feet tall and maybe 8 to 16 feet wide. Well, your flat could be this size or bigger. Here's the catch. Once you've built this huge flat, will it fit through the door?
Most flats are built in one of two different styles. Hard and Soft. Hard flats are covered with a thin plywood and soft flats are covered with cloth. We'll talk about the actual materials later. The cloth flats are much lighter and easier to handle, however, they appear a bit less like hard walls then plywood covered flats. The hard flats tend to act like real walls. If you have a small theater and the audience sits close to the set, hard is the way to go.


Special Effects for the stage is a wide ranging area of stage magic. Making a light flash, and door swing open on its own, making "fire" on stage could all be considered special effects. Several articles here may also belong to other categories. Such as electrics, rigging, sound, etc...

Overview of general rigging items. Knots are under their own menu item.

Overview of general rigging items. Knots are under their own menu item.

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