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Technical Design Solutions for Theatre by Don Harvey, Ben Sammler

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A Plausible, Practical Raft

Fred Ramage

Creating an effective raft was an obstacle to Theatre Memphis’ 1989 opening production, Big River. The director wanted the feel of a real raft, but budget and labor constraints ruled out any elaborate, mechanized tracking system. After some discussion, we opted to have the actors pole the raft just as they would a real raft. Our raft, shown in Figure 1, rolled on a row of rigid casters mounted from side to side across the center of the raft, and a set of four small swivel casters, one in each corner. This configuration allowed the raft to pivot on its center like a real raft or to move in a straight line to almost any location on stage. It also required that the actors steer the raft as well as propel ...

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