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
TRADITIONAL RIGGING SYSTEMS
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-
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