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Technical Design Solutions for Theatre by Don Harvey, Ben Sammler

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Theatrically Safe Outdoor Bonfires

Ashley Elder

I’ve always fancied myself a good campfire builder, but I never thought I’d put this skill to use in the theatre! For The Bread Loaf Theater’s recent production of Shakespeare’s Henriad series, our designer asked that each show include six large outdoor bonfires. The shows were going to run for 12 days straight in rotating repertory, and every show involved bonfires at some point. In each show, both actors and audience members were close to the fires when they were lit and while they burned. The fires were burned in 5′ tall braziers, which were used in different locations each night. The huge fires were to be started by an actor carrying a torch and had to instantly ignite. Once lit, the fires ...

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