Hanging Too Good for Richard III
Thursday, 15 March 2001
Rigging specialist Summit Steel has supplied a custom solution to a hanging problem for the Royal Shakespeare Company, as it embarks on the weighty matter of presenting the entire Henry VI canon, plus Richard III, non-stop, at the University of Michigan. The central scenic device for the production revolves entirely around a ‘hanging’ scenic device as conceived by set designer Tom Piper. At the Swan, this was an adaptation of an existing catwalk, fitted with two trap doors, through which siege ladders could be lowered through for storming the castle walls. Jon Bray of Summit Steel was called in to look at the problem. He explains: "It’s quite a simple device but used in complex roles; actors lowered through on ropes for example, the siege ladders, and in one instance the catwalk itself is used for a fight scene on castle ramparts. It does get very busy up there."

What the RSC needed for the US was something that was venue independent, pre-assembled, and transportable in kit form. "The decking has been built by Scott Fleary in Battersea and is 15m long by 3m wide, mounted to a platform made from our own trussing," explained Bray. "To facilitate all the props, and the raising and lowering of people and equipment, we’ve constructed an upper level of truss structure that houses all the wire winches, pulleys and other mechanical aids supplied by Foys and ourselves."

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