Rigging is an entertainment business term with a variety of meanings. A definition of the
widest possible latitude might say that rigging means to put something into a workable state.
A shirt may be rigged with Velcro when a quick change happens too fast for buttons. Flats
may be rigged with stiffeners when they are too floppy to stand on their own. Rigging for a
rock show in an arena has its own specific meaning, which is using wire rope and shackles to
hang chain motors. In the first part of this chapter, the term rigging will cover the equipment
used in hanging scenery and lighting over the stage. Ropes, pulleys, arbors, and pipes are all
a part of this equipment. The end of the chapter is a survey of how to rig chain motors in a
There are two main types of theatre rigging systems. The first and oldest type is known as
the hemp system, and a second, newer type is known as a counterweight system. The word
system is used to denote that there are many parts to each type and that these parts
work together in concert to form a method of flying scenery. Some theatre buildings use
various types of electric and/or hydraulic winches to fly scenery. Wire rope cable is wound/
unwound from a drum, something like a winch that you might find on the front of an off-
road vehicle.
© 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
doi: 10.1016/C2009-0-23409-X

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