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Mechanical Design for the Stage by Alan Hendrickson

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Lifts

Overview

Lifts have a long and continual history of use in places of entrainment. The Coliseum in ancient Rome had lifts used to raise animals into the arena for the bloody games played there, and in some Roman theatres there were apparently lifting mechanisms used to support a curtain that would be dropped at the start of a performance. Baroque theatres used lifts far more routinely than we do today. A free standing flat painted to represent a fountain, a sea monster, or a mountain was far more likely to be raised and lowered into an immensely deep space understage than flown. The understage at the Opera in the palace of Versailles (1770), for example, has five levels, and is nearly 50 feet deep.

Lifts, more than other types of machinery, ...

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