58 Illustrated Theatre Production Guide 2 ed
After the supplies are gathered, lay the drop out on the
floor face-up and as straight and square as possible.
Perhaps the top can be lined up with a long, straight
joint on the stage floor. Take several very straight 1×4s
and lay them out even with the top of the goods. These
boards should go all the way from side to side. Gather
a number of stagehands to hold the boards and to
rotate them, rolling the fabric onto the boards. It is
important to roll together, and to keep everything nice
and neat.
Continue to roll until the desired height is reached.
Pick up the rolled top and secure it to the batten
with the opera clamps. Attach the clamps by rotating
the flat part, and make use of the U-shaped part by
hanging one end on the pipe and using the other to hold
onto the rolled part of the drop. Rotate the flat part to
seal in the pipe and drop, and then tighten the wing nut
to secure it. If the drop does not hang straight, try again
and be more precise. It may be possible to straighten
the drop by adjusting the batten trim chains, if there
are any.
STORING DROPS AND CURTAINS
Folding curtains and drops is one of the oldest
stagehand skills. You can just imagine how early
stagehands may have equated drop folding with sail
folding.
A few basic concepts govern the folding of any type
of hanging goods. One of these is to remember to leave
the webbing and ties in an accessible position. This
makes it possible to see whatever markings are written
on the webbing and also makes it easier to see how to
lay the goods out for retying to a batten. Proper folding
will also reduce the amount of wrinkling that occurs,
and generally keep the goods in better condition. It is
not really possible to clean or iron most drops and cur-
tains. Because they are quite expensive, great care is
taken to ensure that they are well kept.
Begin any type of folding with the goods laying flat
on the floor with the prettyside up. It is customary
that the back side be touching the floor to save the front
from damage. Put a stagehand at each of the four corners
to pull the goods out and stretch them. Try to get the
goods as flat and smooth as possible. Flopping the
corners up and down while pulling makes the job easier,
because a small amount of air underneath allows the
fabric to float around with less drag.
The stagehands on the bottom two corners should
lift up, pull against one another to keep tension on the
drop, and then quickly move up to the top two corners.
The two stagehands at the top of the drop grab the
corners and match them with their own. Again, a bit of
air captured in the curtain makes it easier to float the
bottom to the top. Too much will cause you to over-
shoot. The same two stagehands who carried the bottom
to the top the first time return to the middle of the drop,
which has now become the bottom by virtue of the
folding. Straighten everything out, let the air escape
from the inside, and repeat the procedure as many times
as necessary until a 2- or 3-foot-wide strip has been
created.
Bring both ends to the center. Leave a space about
1 foot wide so that there will be enough slack for the
final fold. Repeat bringing the ends to the middle until
a 2- or 3-foot bundle is left on either side. Fold one side
over the other, and folding is completed.
A word of advice here: a large number of stagehands
are on hand at most load-outs, and the natural inclina-
tion is for everyone to want to help. That doesnt usually
work out well when drop folding, unless the material is
really heavy and doesnt want to float. It is best to find
something else for the other hands to do to keep them
busy and out of the way. If you are folding a light-
colored drop, or perhaps a cyclorama, it is a good idea
to have the stagehands wash their hands before doing
so—especially if it happens at the end of a long and
dirty load-out.
Soft goods are traditionally stored in large laundry
hampers. If you have carefully folded an expensive drop,
it just makes sense that you should exercise the same
amount of care when easing it into the hamper. Lift it
by the four corners and gently place it down into the
container. On occasion, you may encounter a piece that
is so large and heavy that it is impractical to consider
lifting it up and into the hamper. When this happens
it is best to roll the drop into it. Once the bottom of
the drop has been folded to the top and the sides are
to the middle one time, begin rolling the drop from
one end to the other. Place a hamper on its side at the
far end and simply roll the goods into the hamper
like a huge snowball. Because this is a technique for
very large pieces, the one curtain will most likely fill it
completely.

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