Assembling and Bracing the Set

Assembling and Bracing the Set


J. Michael Gillette. Theatrical Design and Production, 4th edition. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company. 1999. Chapter 9: Scenic Production Techniques

1. Outline the process of assembling a set on stage.

  1. All flown units (legs, electric pipes, drops) load-in first,
  2. Followed by the platforms,
  3. Flats,
  4. Door and window units, and finally, the
  5. Furniture and set dressing.

2. How should flats be moved and stored?

Moving a flat -- "Lift the leading edge of the flat a few inches from the floor, and with the top of the flat leaning in slightly, the stage hand moves rapidly in the desired direction. The trailing corner of the flat skids along on the floor and serves as a partial stabilizer." (pg 284, A. S. Gillette, Stage Scenery Its Construction and Rigging, 1981) Note: In the illustration on left side of the screen, the stagehand's right hand is high (as high as he can reach) and his is left hand is low. (Illustration is from A. S. Gillette's Stage Scenery... , pg. 283)

Flats are normally stored vertically against the back or side wall. To protect the painted surface they are stacked "face-to-face" and "back-to-back."

3. How are flats assembled in a typical "permanent" box set?

In a typical "permanent" box set (meaning the set will not be shifted during the performance) the individual flats are joined at corners with a butt joint using either scafolding nails or drywall screws. The flat which sill be sceen by the largest part of the audience will be the overlaping unit.

4. How are the flats secured to the floor?

The bottom of the flat is secured to a block of wood, often a 2x4, which, inturn, is secured to the stage floor.

5. Describe three techniques which can be used to brace a set.

  1. Design as many square corners into the set as possible (and logical).
  2. Brace the flats with a jack or stage brace.
  3. Run a tension line from the set piece to the grid.

6. What is a jack?

A jack is an uncovered three-sided flat containing a stile which is at least two-thirds the height of the flat, a bottom rail (one fourth the height of the flat), and a diagonal brace. Typically the jack is screwed (or hinged) to the back of the flat and secured to the floor with an L bracket or 2x4 block.

    A stage brace?

A stage brace, a standard piece of theatrical hardware, is two overlapping pieces of hardwood which can be adjusted in length. The top of the brace contains a "double pronged curved hook" that fits into the eye of a brace cleat. The bottom of the brace is attached to the stage floor with a stage screw. The cost of a stagebrack is about $60.00.

7. Which, in my opinion, does the better job of bracing scenery?

The jack.

8. Briefly outline the process of striking a set from the stage.

The order of strike is the reverse of the order of load-in.
  1. Remove the furniture and set dressing first.
  2. Strike the door and window units,
  3. Followed by the the flats,
  4. Platforms and finally
  5. All flown units (legs, electric pipes, drops, ceiling).

9. What is meant by "floating" a flat?

The stagehand "foots" the bottom rail and permits the flat to fall forward, floating gently to the floor. The wind resistance of the unit keeps the structure from crashing.

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Last updated: July 15 2005
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