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Technical Design Solutions for Theatre by Don Harvey, Ben Sammler

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Ben Sumner

A Spectacular Electrified Fence

At the climax of Martin Sherman’s Bent, the main protagonist — a prisoner in a German prison camp — commits suicide by walking into an electric barbed-wire fence. The director of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts wanted to see real sparks at this crucial moment in the action. Since the fence had to be set up during an intermission during a heavy scene change, the effect we needed had to be portable and quick to rig. Limited by budgetary considerations and Hong Kong’s restrictive pyrotechnics laws, we settled on using a 12V car battery to generate a dramatic but safe low voltage spark.

FENCE DESIGN

Our effect included two fences, a “prop fence” visible to the audience and an electrified fence. ...

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