Backstage Safety

Topics: Lighting, Stagecraft, Light Pages: 5 (1286 words) Published: May 8, 2006
INTRODUCTION: 0-2 Minutes- Lecture- PowerPoint
The very nature of theatre involves some special hazards, including safety hazards, fire hazards and chemical hazards. Backstage crew, performers, and sometimes even the audience can be at risk. Within the theatre, there is lifting of heavy scenery, and manipulation of this often-large scenery, props, and lighting or special effect equipment in a very small space. The hours of work are irregular and the backstage is often very cramped, especially in older theatres, and there is the pressure that the "show must go on."

Putting on a stage performance involves several steps: preproduction (e.g., set construction, painting of set and scenery, propmaking, costume fabrication, etc.); the production itself; and the "strike" (tearing down the set at the end of the performance run). This session will mainly discuss safety hazards during the production phase.

The most common type of stage is the proscenium stage, a type of end stage theatre in which the backstage and scenery is blocked from audience view by the means of a curtain that effectively masks the backstage activities, like Montgomery auditorium.

The theater has various physical levels. There is the stage itself, where the actors perform. In fact the stage can have several levels besides that of the stage floor, including trap doors, pits, stairs, and balconies. Above the stage is the grid from which lighting, special effects, and scenery is hung. These multiple levels can create hazards of falling or of being hit by items dropped from a higher level. Before, during and after the production, stagehands prepare the stage for the performance. Activities can include physically adjusting the lights, adjusting lighting levels, moving scenery, arranging and removing props, special effects, and so forth.

Body: 2-9 Minutes- Lecture- PowerPoint

*Make sure that all props are safely secured.
* All trap doors and pits must be adequately marked.
* All rotating sections of the stage must be marked
* All grooves in the floor must be clearly marked.
* All elevations should be clearly marked and safe, and be made of secure construction. * Stage floors should have adequate resiliency.
* Stage floors should be kept dry and cleared of slippery materials. * The stage floors should be free of splinters, nails, or worn-out floorboards. * Backstage stairs should be maintained in good condition, and the stairwells should be properly lit. * All alleyways should be clear of litter and obstacles.

* The stairs leading up to any catwalk or elevation should have rails, and be marked. * People should not be allowed to enter or exit sections of the stage that are moving or rotating unless absolutely necessary.

* All areas elevated above 6 feet should be guarded by standard railings. * All floor openings must be guarded by a cover or guardrail on open sides. If there is only a cover, when uncovered, the opening must be attended to by worker. Hinges, handles, and all other hardware must be flush with the floor. * Platforms should be clear of all obstructions, and kept free of oils, grease or water. * Standard railing consists of a top rail, a midrail, toeboard and posts. Standard railings must be able to withstand 200 pounds in any direction on the top rail. * All individuals working under elevations must wear hardhats and safety shoes.

* OSHA has strict regulations for scaffolding (CFR 1910.29 and 1910.29) * Scaffolds should be erected and dismantled by experienced personnel using the proper equipment. * Scaffolds should be constructed so they can support up to 4 times the maximum intended load. * Scaffolds should follow the Ontario 3 to 1 rule, meaning that the maximum height of a freestanding scaffold should be 3 times the narrowest side of the base. OSHA regulations allow a 4 to 1 ratio. * Scaffolds must never be erected on top of barrels, boxes,...
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