New Twists On Rigging


Published by Southern Illinois University Press, the third edition of Jay O. Glerum's Stage Rigging Handbook is now available and includes comprehensive sections on the design, operation, and maintenance of stage rigging equipment, as well as three exclusive sections: fire curtains, venue-specific training, and inspection procedures. Also featured are inspection checklists for all types of rigging developed over 20 years by Glerum during hundreds of his venue inspections, and a special checklist for installers of rigging systems. There is also new, detailed information on wire rope terminations.

“This book is intended to help stage technicians understand theatrical rigging equipment so they can use, inspect, and maintain it safely,” says Glerum, who will once again teach his annual, full-day Stage Rigging Fundamentals class as part of the LDInstitute at LDI2007 on Thursday, November 15, 2007, in Orlando, FL, and a 90-minute session on Terminating Wire Rope Safely on Saturday, November 17. (For details, visit

“The current trend toward spectacular, over-the-top scenery and stage effects makes it more important than ever to secure and move scenery safely,” Glerum continues. “Venue management and owners are responsible for the maintenance and correct use of the rigging equipment in their facilities, making it imperative that the stage technicians they hire have up-to-date knowledge for any situation.”

The following are excerpts from the preface and new sections of the third edition.

From The Preface

The third edition contains a number of additions and changes requested by readers and participants in the rigging master classes and workshops that I have taught during the past ten years. The additions also reflect some of the changes in the way that the entertainment industry is approaching rigging.

Stagehands, technical directors, and venue managers are increasingly aware of the dangers of unsafe rigging practices, and there is a concerted effort in the industry to do things correctly and safely. In a number of venues, from legitimate theatres to theme parks and Las Vegas spectaculars, a new attitude is emerging: The show does not have to go on — unless it can go on safely. On Broadway, stagehands no longer use Genie lifts without outriggers; they keep maintenance logs on the rigging equipment, and regular rigging-equipment inspections are part of the standard practice. The Entertainment Technician Certification Program is up and running, and there are now nationally certified flymen and riggers.

In an effort to help stage technicians more easily locate information they need on installing, maintaining, or operating equipment, this third edition is indexed. It also contains new sections with detailed checklists for rigging inspections, installing rigging, and creating venue-specific training programs. The section on fire curtains was added to help stagehands understand how existing fire curtains work and to keep the curtains operating according to code.

Introduction To Part 1: Loads And Reactions, The 4 Ks

Rigging is a tool used in the theatre. It supports and provides movement of overhead objects that are part of a production. If it works as it should, it rarely calls attention to itself. If something goes wrong, it may not only be noticeable, but life threatening. The functions of the rigging equipment and the rigger are to do the job as the designer designed it, and the director directed it, and do it safely. To do that, there are four principles that a rigger needs to follow, called the 4 Ks of rigging.

  1. Know the rigging system you are working with.
  2. Keep the equipment in safe working order.
  3. Know how to use it.
  4. Keep your concentration.

Everything that follows in this book is an elaboration of these four principles.

Introduction To Part 7: Inspection Of Rigging Systems, The Second K — Keep The Equipment In Safe Working Order

One of the questions asked after an accident is whether the rigging equipment has been inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Rigging equipment is machinery and, as such, requires care and maintenance. Because it suspends objects over the heads of people, it poses a high degree of risk to life and limb. Failure to care for rigging equipment is negligent behavior. Performing regular inspections and correcting problems as they occur are required procedures to ensure the safety of everyone working on the stage or under any suspended object.

Introduction To Part 8: Operation And Training, ETCP Certification

In the fall of 2005, the first national certification examination in the entertainment industry was given to riggers (arena) and flymen (theatre). The examination was part of the Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP), a voluntary process that grants recognition to individuals who have demonstrated certain abilities, skills, and knowledge as riggers and flymen. The ETCP is widely supported and funded by many groups and individuals in the entertainment industry.

*The ETCP rigging exam will be held during LDI2007 on Saturday, November 17, 2007, in Orlando, FL. For details, visit

Venue-Specific Training

All of the flymen in a venue need not be certified by the ETCP. However, the rigging equipment in each venue is unique, and operating it safely requires venue-specific training. Even though the hardware in two different venues may be from the same manufacturer, the rigging may operate differently due to the unique structure of each theatre. To ensure that the crew in your theatre can operate the rigging system safely and efficiently, a training program for your venue should be set up and implemented.

Introduction To Part 9: Fire Curtains

A proscenium theatre of a certain size generally requires a fire curtain or, as it is referred to in the various codes, a proscenium curtain. The primary purpose of the fire curtain is to contain an onstage fire (and its resultant smoke) long enough for the audience to evacuate safely. The fire curtain has been a standard fire-protection device in theatres for more than 100 years, but the sad reality is that many curtains in existing theatres do not work. If a theatre has a fire curtain, it must work! If it does not work, the theatre can be closed for failure to comply with the fire code. Ongoing discussion continues in the entertainment industry about the need to revise codes to provide for alternate fire-protection systems, but in the meantime this book focuses on types of fire curtains that are currently in use.

Stage Rigging Handbook
Jay O. Glerum
April 2007
320 pages, 7×9,
227 illus.

Southern Illinois University Press ( books are available at or through any online bookstore, including, American Booksellers Association, Barnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million

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