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Stagecraft Frequently Asked Questions

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Stagecraft Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents
    1. Welcome to the Stagecraft FAQ

 About these newsgroups (/netiquette/)
    1. What is this newsgroup for? What is appropriate here?
    2. Posting guidelines and suggestions
    3. Where can I find out more about newsgroups?
    4. Is archived anywhere?
    5. Can I get by email?

 Scenery (/scenery/)
    1. Vacuum forming information?
    2. foam surface treatment

 Lighting (/lighting/)
    1. Where do I find PMX (GoldenScan,RS232) protocol info?
    2. Where do I find more info about DMX512?
    3. What's a 'Ghost Light'?
    4. What's the pinout for Socapex?
    5. What's the pinout for Lectriflex?
    6. How do I make my own gobos?
    7. Dimming fluorescent tubes.
    8. Flicker effects - TV, fire, cinema.
    9. How do I get rid of spill (stray light) from my lanterns?
    10. Which should I buy, ETC or Strand?
    11. Keystoning slides for rear projection
    12. How do you light a 'Glitter-ball'

 Sound (/sound/)
    1. What's the XLR pinout?
    2. What is phantom power?
    3. How do I connect balanced and unbalanced equipment?
    4. Music stands.
    5. Sound effects CDs

 Props and special effects (/props/)
    1. How do I ring an on-stage phone?
    2. Audrey II for Little Shop of Horrors
    3. Stage Blood recipes
    4. How do I hang an actor?
    5. Flickering candles
    6. Masks?
    7. Cutting styrofoam or Polystyrene
    8. Toffee glass / Candy glass bottles?
    9. How can you make realistic whip marks on an actors back?
    10. Flying People
    11. Spliffs? Joints? Reefers? Marijuana cigarettes?
    12. Smoke, fog, haze, CO2, LN2? What's the difference?
    13. How do I clean my smoke machine?
    14. How do you make smoke rings?
    15. Pyrotechnics - explosions, flashes, smoke
    16. Refilling beverage cans
    17. Welch vacuum forming pump
    18. Berry Stains
    19. How do you cut mirror?

 CAD and other software (/cad/)
    1. Are there any lighting symbols freely available for

 Other miscellaneous stuff (/misc/)
    1. How do I contact ArtSearch?
    2. What's a Green Room?
    3. Why are stages painted black?
    4. Teasers & Tormenters

 Other resources (/other_resources/)
    1. Are there any related mailing lists?
    2. What are some good books?
    3. What magazines are there?
    4. Any other online resources?
    5. Which newsgroups carry Stagecraft related material?

 Show production, tour management and arts management
    1. What about copyright?
    2. Saving money on posters, flyers, programs.
    3. 'Net access while touring
    4. Directories and Yearbooks
    5. Script publishers information

 Stage Management (/stage_management/)
    1. What are cue lights?
    2. What should be in a stage managers toolkit?

Subject: 1. Welcome to the Stagecraft FAQ These frequently asked questions about stagecraft are posted monthly to and alt.stagecraft If you find any problems (wrong or out of date info, a web site that's vanished....) or have any new stuff to add to the FAQ then either drop me some email to or head to the web pages at and fix things yourself. If you're reading this from a CD-ROM or a printed copy then it's already out of date. You can find a current copy at or by sending email to Earthlink customers - because of attempts by earthlink customers and employees to crash this server email access from has been blocked. Sorry. You can still read or edit the FAQ on the web or read the version posted to the newsgroups. Legal notes I'd rather not have to do this, but I've been told it'll save me a lot of pain in the future: "By using this document you agree to absolve Steve Atkins and all other authors of all liability for any loss or suffering related to your use of this document" The stagecraft FAQ as a collection is Copyright 1997 Steve Atkins. Individual sections of the FAQ retain the copyright of the original contributor. * License is granted for electronic redistribution of the textual form of the FAQ provided it's altered in no significant way. * License is granted for distribution on CD-ROM compilations with a total retail cost of less than US$30 provided the FAQ is distributed complete, altered in no significant way. * License is granted to make electronic or hard copy for personal use, provided this copyright notice is retained. Anything else, ask me at . I'll almost certainly agree. The FAQ is maintained with the aid of faqomatic software, derived from code written by Jon Howell ( ). On to the useful stuff...
Subject: About these newsgroups (/netiquette/)
Subject: 1. What is this newsgroup for? What is appropriate here? is for the discussion of the technical and backstage aspects of performance art. This includes lighting, sound, set construction and design, costume, stage management, production, pyrotechnics, props, and related areas. If you're announcing a production, and you're simply trying to attract customers, then you might be better off elsewhere (local announcement or arts newsgroups, the Opera server at , or maybe or ). Soliciting crew for forthcoming productions is generally acceptable, but remember that one post will reach everyone who reads the newsgroup, and multiple posts may give a bad impression to potential crew. Irrelevant commercial postings are unwelcome , but occasional brief commercial postings relevant to the charter of the group are acceptable to most readers. Before posting an advertisement here you should read the group for a week or so, to see whether your ad is relevant. You should also read Advertising on Usenet, how to do it, how not to do it at I believe similar standards are appropriate for alt.stagecraft - I'm sure I'll be corrected if they aren't.
Subject: 2. Posting guidelines and suggestions [The original* hierarchy was , , and . I have seen references to, but it doesn't exist at my server, so I assume it failed it's vote. was supposed to replace alt.stagecraft but at the moment both remain active. r.a.t.stagecraft is higher traffic and has more information, but alt.stagecraft has a better signal to noise ratio -- Steve Atkins] From the* charter: All four groups are unmoderated All four newsgroups will be unmoderated, which means anyone is free to post messages to the newsgroup. All criticism ought to be constructive and polite, and all messages ought to be compatible with generally accepted netiquette. Personal messages in the newsgroup is discouraged, although not so that it limits free and unencumbered discussion. Crossposting within* Like other hierarchies, all of the newsgroups within the r.a.t.* are related, yet at the same time we have to acknowledge that they are separate groups and that there will be a tendency to cross-post announcements between the groups. However, it is also acknowledged that anyone capable of reading one of the four groups will most likely know about and have access to the other groups in the hierarchy. Therefore, we can logically conclude that if someone isn't subscribed to all four groups it is for a reason, and not a mischance. The point is this: Consistent crossposting between all four newsgroups ultimately defeats the purpose of having separate newsgroups. If you have a message that is truly related to more than one of the topics, such as a play with a lot of music or if you are talking about how the tire rises in the Broadway production of _Cats_, then by all means users are encouraged to cross-post their message to more than one group. However, just because you *really* need to know who wrote the play _Chryseide_and_Arimand_ doesn't mean you ought to post the message to Posters are asked to use their own judgment regarding what ought to be discussed in more than one group. Use of Followup-To: encouraged when crossposting If you ARE going to crosspost between the four groups, it is recommended that you include a "Followup-To:" expression in the header of your message, which will ultimately point traffic towards one group. The justification for this is because the assumption is once again made that people will tend to read all four of the groups and that having the same thread appear in two, three or four newsgroups will ultimately prove annoying. Under this method, people who do not read all four groups will at least know the discussion is taking place and will have the option of engaging in that discussion by joining whichever group the topic is being followed up to. This will hopefully eliminate superfluous net traffic.
Subject: 3. Where can I find out more about newsgroups? The usenet info centre at has a number of introductory documents. You should also subscribe to news.announce.newusers , and look for these documents: * A_Primer_on_How_to_Work_With_the_Usenet_Community * Answers_to_Frequently_Asked_Questions_about_Usenet * Emily_Postnews_Answers_Your_Questions_on_Netiquette * Hints_on_writing_style_for_Usenet * Introduction_to_the_*.answers_newsgroups * Rules_for_posting_to_Usenet * What_is_Usenet? * DRAFT_FAQ:_Advertising_on_Usenet:_How_To_Do_It,_How_Not_To_Do_It If you only have email access send mail to with the following lines in the message: help send usenet/news.announce.newusers/Introduction_to_the_*.answers_newsgroups If you have any questions a good place to ask them is the newsgroup news.newusers.questions
Subject: 4. Is archived anywhere? Well, sort of. You can usually find what you're looking for by searching one of the usenet search sites, such as Altavista ( ) or DejaNews ( )
Subject: 5. Can I get by email? Yes. Send email to and in the body of the message put ' subscribe stagecraft '.
Subject: Scenery (/scenery/)
Subject: 1. Vacuum forming information? Stiegelbauer Associates (NY, USA) do custom vacforming and stock a range of standard (brick/stone/column) vacforms. See . The Prop Builders Molding and Casting Handbook, ISBN 1-55870-128-1 has plans for building a vacuum forming machine.
Subject: 2. foam surface treatment Am looking for recipes for the treament of foam prior to painting. In particular, I'm looking for a good recipe that fills cracks and voids that is easily sanded. Other recipes/tricks would be appreciated.
Subject: Lighting (/lighting/)
Subject: 1. Where do I find PMX (GoldenScan,RS232) protocol info? Steve Unwin has specs available at
Subject: 2. Where do I find more info about DMX512? The full spec itself 'DMX512/1990 and AMX192 standards' is available from USITT for about US$26. See There are also pirated copies of the spec floating around the net if you look hard enough. US$26 isn't much though, and you can grab a copy of 'Recommended Practice' for US$8 at the same time, so get the real copy from USITT PLASA & USITT publish a book "Recommended Practice for DMX 512" by Adam Bennette that discusses usage of DMX512. PLASA can be found at and USITT at Highend Systems have some DMX protocol info for Cyberlights, Intellabeams & Studio Colors available at DMX protocol is discussed occasionally on comp.arch.embedded and . Also checkout the lighting control developers list (see the mailing lists FAQ entry
Subject: 3. What's a 'Ghost Light'? This is occasionally used as a synonym for 'ghost load' a lantern connected in parallel with a stage-practical to ensure the dimmer has enough load on it. More usually it's a light on a pole left on-stage while nobody is about. The practical advantages are that the last people out & first people in won't fall in the orchestra pit in the dark. The historical reasons for it's existence (gaslights acting as pressure relief valves, keeping the ghosts away, keeping the ghosts happy, ensuring the theatre never 'goes dark' etc.) are occasionally discussed to death on r.a.t.s. - do a dejanews search if you're interested.
Subject: 4. What's the pinout for Socapex? 1 - live 1 2 - neutral 1 3 - live 2 4 - neutral 2 5 - live 3 6 - neutral 3 7 - live 4 8 - neutral 4 9 - live 5 10 - neutral 5 11 - live 6 12 - neutral 6 13 - earth 1 14 - earth 2 15 - earth 3 16 - earth 4 17 - earth 5 18 - earth 6 [Thanks Gareth]
Subject: 5. What's the pinout for Lectriflex? 1 - live 1 2 - live 2 3 - live 3 4 - live 4 5 - live 5 6 - live 6 7 - earth 8 - earth 9 - neutral 1 10 - neutral 2 11 - neutral 3 12 - neutral 4 13 - neutral 5 14 - neutral 6 15 - earth 16 - earth [Thanks to Gareth]
Subject: 6. How do I make my own gobos? First, do you really want to? You can make rough breakup gobos fairly easily, but standard stock breakups are only a few dollars. If you have specific artwork you want to make into a gobo then you'll need to make it by etching. You have three options, of which only the first two can be recommended! 1 Get it professionally etched. Your local lighting supply company should be able to point the way to a company offering this service. ROSCO make custom gobos, but their pricing and delivery time may not be competitive with someone closer to you. 2 M&M make an etching kit in a briefcase called the M&M gobomaker. This is available for hire from a number of rental companies worldwide, or if you think you'll be making lots of custom gobos you could buy a kit. Contact (website); (email); +44-171-284-2503 (phone); or +44-171-284-2503 (fax) 3 If you really like spending time and money and playing with dangerous chemicals, follow the instructions below. For abstract break-ups or very rough gobos any thin sheet metal will work. Scrap printing plates from a newspaper printers work OK. I've even seen gobos made out of flattened coke cans (tho' the thin aluminium softens). Cutting a pattern is easy if you have access to a pillar drill. The thin aluminum used for litho plates can be cut with sharp craft knife. For photo-etched gobos: 1 You need high contrast original artwork, with completely opaque black areas. * Computer graphics laser-printed onto transparencies works well, artwork photocopied onto transparencies is OK * The black areas must be completely opaque. Any holes or grey areas can be filled in with a black spirit marker * A product called 'Lasercolor' will bond to toner, making the image more opaque * Scotchcal 8007 reversal film, usually used for making photoetched PCBs makes great artwork * Surround the image with an opaque shape leaving the outline of the gobo - that way the gobo will fall out of the blank when etched 2 Choose and prepare the gobo material * Brass, copper and aluminium are the possible choices. * Stephen Lane recommends 0.2mm brass shim, available from model shops or a non-ferrous metals dealer. * Aluminium is cheaply available from scrap litho printing plates from a local newspaper, or from a flattened drink can. I've seen aluminium gobos soften within a few seconds in 1kW lanterns * Cut a blank an inch or two larger than the gobo you're making * Clean the surface thoroughly, getting rid of any grease and removing the oxide coating. 3 Photoresist * Coat one side of the blank with a positive photoresist (such as Electrolube PRP200). * Coat the other side with a protective laquer (such as Electrolube CPL200) 4 Fix the artwork to the blank * Put the side of the artwork with the toner on it touching the blank (this improves fine detail) 5 Exposure * The blank needs to be exposed to 'enough' UV light to expose the resist in the uncovered areas, but not enough to expose the remainder * The best way to expose it is to use a hobbyist PCB exposure box. If you intend to do many gobos, or intend to make any PCBs it's worth looking at one of these * Fluorescent UV tubes are the next best option, with the artwork fixed to the blank with four bulldog clips. This takes 50-90 seconds at a range of two inches * Mercury vapour worklights and sunlight can be used, but aren't recommended. The worklights produce a lot of heat, which can damage the resist, and sunlight is a bit unpredictable. 6 Next develop the resist, using the relevant developer (eg Electrolube PRD200) 7 Any holes in the resist can be touched up with a spirit marker or a 'resist touch-up pen' from the same supplier as the rest of the PCB stuff. 8 Etching * For brass or copper the best etch is ferric chloride. Ammonium persulphate works too, but you have to be careful of fumes given off, and heat produced can make the resist flake off. * For aluminium one part hydrogen peroxide, one part hydrochloric acid (what strength? -- SRA) to four parts of water works well. This is a very corrosive mix. If you don't know about safe acid handling precautions don't do it. Use acid-proof gloves, apron and eye protection. Use glass, or maybe plastic containers. Don't store unused etch, dilute it a lot and dispose of it safely. Another reason not to use aluminium for etched gobos. * Keep an eye on it as it etches. If anything starts to etch that shouldn't you can take it out of the etch, flush it with water, touch up the resist with a spirit marker and drop it back in the etch. * Serious electronics hobbyists use small 'bubble etch' tanks. These heat the etchant and blow bubbles through it. This gives a faster and more uniform etch 9 Acetone, or whatever solvent the resist manufacturer recommends, will strip off the resist and laquer Loosely adapted from posts by Stephen Lane of Apollo Lighting, with extra bits from David Gibson, Clive Mitchell and Steve Atkins. Practice a couple of times on some scrap to get the exposure time correct. The first time I use an exposure box I coat a piece of scrap with resist. Then I cover most of it with a piece of foil and expose for 15 seconds. Then I move the foil down a half-inch and expose for another 15 seconds, and so on. Then when I develop and etch this test piece I can see how each exposure time works -- SRA The whole process of making brass gobos is very similar to making PCBs, so hobbyist electronics books may be useful for more info and pictures (Stephen Lane intends to make photos available on the web sometime soon). The PCB FAQ, posted to sci.electronics or available at is well worth a look. Variations to this are the toner-transfer and direct methods Direct etching is pretty simple. Rather than use photo-resist you simply draw your pattern onto the blank with an etch-resist pen, or coat the blank with laquer and scribe your design into it. Then you etch the blank as described above. The toner transfer method is popular for making simple low-tech PCBs. I've never heard of anyone trying to make gobos with it, and the longer etching time needed for gobos might make it difficult to get toner-transfer to work well. Basically you photocopy the densest, blackest artwork you can onto paper, or better, special toner-transfer paper. Then you put the paper over the blank, toner touching the (sandpapered clean) blank. Then you iron it with a hot iron, fusing the plastic component of the toner onto the metal. The you soak it in water to lift off the paper. Toner-transfer instructions can be found at If anyone trys toner-transfer for gobos, please email me to tell me how well it works. In the UK all of the equipment and chemicals are available from Maplin Electronics ( , full address elsewhere in the FAQ). The chemicals are available from Electrolube Ltd., Blakes Road, Wargrave, Berkshire, RG10 8AW, +44 1734 404031. Check the ads in any electronics magazine for local suppliers
Subject: 7. Dimming fluorescent tubes.
Subject: 8. Flicker effects - TV, fire, cinema. Most programmable lighting desks have an effects unit with random and regular flicker effects. If you don't have an effects unit and you need a random flicker you can try the classic fluorescent starter trick. Wire a bulb in series with a fluorescent starter. It will flicker on and off at random, slowly for the first 5 or 10 seconds, then a little quicker.It's worth buying the proper bases for the fluoro starters, as their terminals don't like solder! Note that the starters have a maximum rating of 40 or 60 Watts. The on-off random flicker from a fluoro starter is a bit unsubtle on it's own. Pair the flickering bulb with a bulb that's permanently on for the best effect. (Steady blue and flickering white works well for television, steady red and flickering yellow for a fire). For a really top-notch fireplace, use a red bulb non flickering (but possibly on a slow fading sequence) plus two flickering bulbs, one in orange and one in yellow. See 'flickering candles' under the /props/ section of the FAQ for flicker dimmers and flickering bulbs.
Subject: 9. How do I get rid of spill (stray light) from my lanterns? Fresnels tend to spill a lot of light. Always using barn-doors helps a lot - close the doors so they're just touching the edge of the beam. For some models of lantern an accessory called a "snoot" is available. This looks like a top hat with a hole in the top, and sits in the colour frame runners. For profiles or PC lanterns many spill problems can be fixed with black Cinefoil ( ) Be careful about blocking too many ventilation slots on a lantern - they're there for a reason.
Subject: 10. Which should I buy, ETC or Strand? For a much fuller answer to this question from David Lawver (, Derek Smith (, Gareth Hughes (, and Steve Bailey ( see the FAQ appendix at The executive summary: * Both Strand and ETC have their supporters * ETC have very knowledgable, helpful people * The ETC Express is liked for many reasons, including * Good engineering at a reasonable price * Ethernet support * Very nice firmware and UI, for moving lights as well as dimmers * Show swap compatibility with the expression * The GSX has AMX support, but not AMX and DMX simultaneously, and is in other respects not as nice as the express. And it costs more * And most importantly, if you're considering buying a board rent or borrow one for a show to find it's strengths and weaknesses ETC have a web site at . Strand lighting are at
Subject: 11. Keystoning slides for rear projection I have to rear project from an acute angle and need to keystone the image accordingly. What would be a good resource for this procedure? I'm after both on-line and otherwise material.
Subject: 12. How do you light a 'Glitter-ball' Having never used a one before, I need to light up a glitter ball (ball with many mirrors glued on) to fill a school hall, however the lamps avaliable to the school are not excessively bright. How can I achieve this, ie: positioning of lamp, type of lamp, colour of lamp etc...
Subject: Sound (/sound/)
Subject: 1. What's the XLR pinout? Well most manufacturers use pin 2 hot: Pin 1 = Shield ground Pin 2 = Positive balanced signal Pin 3 = Negative balanced signal Mnemonic: XLR = Shield,Live,Return Looking into the female connector with the locking tag up top right is #1, top left #2, bottom #3 ___ ___ / v \ | 2 1 | \ 3 / \_____/ But I've also seen pin 3 hot and heard of pin 1 hot, so check your manuals.
Subject: 2. What is phantom power? [Paraphrased from the excellent FAQ at tml ] Condenser microphones have internal electronics which require power. In phantom power (DIN spec 45596) the positive terminal of a 48V power supply is connected via 6800ohm resistors to both signal leads of a microphone and the negative terminal to the ground connection A dynamic or ribbon mic can be connected to a phantom powered circuit without damage. The only risks are a shorted mic cable, or some old mics with a centre tap - these will be damaged if connected to a phantom powered circuit.
Subject: 3. How do I connect balanced and unbalanced equipment? [Paraphrased from the excellent FAQ at tml amongst other places] The correct way to connect balanced and unbalanced equipment is an audio balance transformer To connect an unbalanced output (typically on a phono connector from some home audio equipment, eg a CD player) to a balanced input (almost always an XLR connector). Connect the centre pin to pin 2 of the XLR connector, and the ground ring to pins 1 & 3 To connect a balanced output to an unbalanced input is trickier. If it's a floating (passive) balanced output you can connect pin 2 of the XLR to the phono pin and pin 3 to the ring. If it's an active balanced output then you may be able to XLR pin 2 to the phono pin and pin 1 to the phono ring, leaving pin 3 unconnected. If that fails try connecting XLR pin 3 to the phono pin, XLR pin 1 to the ring and leavin pin 2 unconnected. Both of these approaches may well cause distortion or more noise.
Subject: 4. Music stands. Ok, I've just changed the tube lamps in our running/music stand lights for the umpteenth time. Does anyone recommend a better (i.e. longer life) lamp for these units? * Low wattage aquarium lamps * 25W appliance bulbs * EXIT lamps (from your local electrical supply house) * 15W standard bulbs rather than tubular lamps (used with success by several people)
Subject: 5. Sound effects CDs The three main ranges of FX CDs in Britain are BBC, Digifex and Bits And Pieces. All are available from Canford Audio ( Ultimate ( )do a budget library, 10 CDs for UKP50
Subject: Props and special effects (/props/)
Subject: 1. How do I ring an on-stage phone? The Tele Q, made by CEI Inc, PO Box 51, Deborah, IA 52101 Tel: +1 319 382 0041, Fax: +1 319 382 0041 is one gadget to do this. Approximately US$110-120. It's US$18 for a power supply, but batteries last a long time. Norcostco at http://www.norcostco.htm/ have it in stock for US$120 at the time of writing Maplin MPS, PO Box 77, Rayleigh, Essex, UK, +44 1702 554400 make a kit called the 'Autoring', P/N LT19V. Maplin live at - they list a number of overseas distributors there. Pricing anyone? It's an expensive call from New England. 19.95 (pounds sterling) in their 96/97 catalogue. Jech Tech Inc, 13962 Olde Post Road, Pickerington, Ohio, 43147, USA Tel: +1 614-927-3495, Fax: +1 614 927 3493 Sales & service : ...make a small PCB module generating 180V pk to pk at up to 20 Hz, ringing up to 5 REN (ringer equivalents). Frequency is adjustable for non US phones. Requires 12V DC power supply. US$49.95 plus shipping and handling. They have a web site at has general info on ringing telephones along with several means of producing ring voltage. Links to commercial equipment sources and to scratch built plans as in the Wenzel link below has complete plans for a phone ringer providing ring voltage and cadence control, provisions for talk circuit and audio input. It's in PDF format so you'll need Acrobat from or xpdf from your favourite archive. Looks like c. US$20 component cost. In the UK, phones are rung with 50V A.C., at 25Hz. If want to ring a phone where the clapper oscillates between 2 bells, remove one of the bells, and run it from a transformer giving 50VAC, 50Hz. If you want to ring a more modern phone, a lot generate the ring frequency themselves, which makes it easier. Get hold of a master socket (the type with the surge arrestor, out of service resistor and a capacitor inside), and apply 50VAC 50Hz to the terminals A and B, and the phone will sort out the frequencies itself. [Thanks to Murr Rhame for most of this info] Abbagail Winters tells me that in australia, Telstra techs can often be talked into giving a community theatre company a few of the old decadic, rotary dial phones, a transformer (dc 28v?), and the necessary info on pinouts to make a phone ring.
Subject: 2. Audrey II for Little Shop of Horrors Where to rent the various Audrey2s needed for LSoH is a common question on r.a.t.s. Here are some of the suggestions: * All Dressed Up - Batavia, IL, USA * MIKAN Theatricals - Hampton, NH, USA * Davis Musical Theatre Company - CA, USA * Scott Richardson - Midwest, USA * Billy Diamond - +1 914 455 3984 (pager) * Ned Milne( ) - Bath University Drama Department, Bath, England - 01225 826826 * Plans are allegedly available from the publisher for US$65
Subject: 3. Stage Blood recipes Edible Karo syrup (light corn syrup), black-cherry Kool-aid powder and smooth peanut butter 4 parts liquid glucose, 1 part water, chinese red food colouring Ruby orange juice, with the bit strained out (sprays nicely) Corn syrup, red food dye, a little blue & green food dye. From MB2 Blood Formula Flour Base: 7.5cc to 10cc plain all purpose flour per cup (250cc) of water. (7.5cc = 1/2 level tablespoon , 10cc = 2 level teaspoons) Mix flour into water completely (no lumps) before heating. Bring to boil then simmer for 1/2 hour. Stir frequently. Let cool before adding food color. Stir in any surface scum. Makes a good base for stage blood. Slightly slimy. Fairly low surface tension. Soaks and spreads well. One cup batch of MB2: 1 oz (29cc) Red food coloring (Durkee (R) brand or equivalent) 1/8 teaspoon (.6cc) green food coloring (Durkee (R) brand or equivalent) Add flour base described above to a total of one cup (250cc). This is both much more realistic and simpler than the old Karo (R) corn syrup, Hershey's (R) chocolate syrup and food coloring based formula. There is no sugar and very little food in the MB2 formula so it's probably less attractive to insects. Shelf life is fairly short (days) at room temp. Does not go rank but ferments a bit and looses viscosity. I have not tested refrigerated or frozen storage. This formula will temporarily stain skin. Seems to wash out of cotton cloths OK. Inedible: Adding a little washing-up liquid to any of the above may make it easier to wash out of costumes. Adding blue washing detergent has been suggested - it makes the blood easier to wash out, and darkens the blood. Be careful of this, washing detergent can cause severe allergic reactions. Commercial Stageblood (From Rich Williamson of Pierre's Costumes, NJ, USA, 1-888-PIERRE1) Ben Nye Best all around blood. Flows very well. Color is deep and shows up well on video or film. A little too dark for black actors. Moderately washable. Bonus: Edible, and mint flavored. Also available in Thick blood (excellent) and dried scab (browner and older looking) Ben Nye also has a full line of product in his Moulage line...(for EMT and Disaster training) Geleffects can creat great wounds without messing up clothing (product is made ahead of time and is dry once used, you can spray glycerine to "freshen" or moisten it). He also provides a great product. Dried blood powder. It is a very economical way to can splash it all around or stain clothes with it...designed to simulate horrific crash scenes in emergency training exercises. Mehron The worst on the market....too light....too runny...looks like watery strawberry pancake syrup. Don't waste your time Kryolan Excellent products...they have blood that dries to the touch (great for clothes) Eyeblood (cry tears of blood)...their film blud is great for TV and has a yellow pigment in it that reflects nicely under also smears very realistically. Film blud is available in arterial (light color) and venous (darker). Frankly they have many more products...they are the most comprehensive carrier of blood...I just don't need the others...but I can get them if someone needs them. Reel Fred has the best bloods on the market. He is a little know secret. He has been a make-up artist for the last 30 years. He works on major first run movies. His blood is available in "original" (great bright color, washable, runs well, great all around blood for most scenes and skin types) "Lung" (brighter for either gruesome spurting scenes, or use with darker skinned actors. Bubbles very well for gushing wounds), and aged (darker for that "I cut myself 15 minutes ago and it hasn't stopped flowing yet" look. He also provides thick blood. Fresh (great brush burns and scrapes...stays in place), aged (older scabby look) and old dried (dark brown look) ...mixing the 3 together in appropriate streaks and blobs makes the MOST realistic looking wounds for TV and Film (BTW Reel is the best source for custom tattoo painting systems. It is a cross between real tattoos, stencils, and an alcohol based painting system. There are over 5000 styles avail. ranging from gang to prison to biker to tribal. They can't be discerned from real ones up close...even when you rub on them) The most washable of all bloods is Reel
Subject: 4. How do I hang an actor? The general agreement of the group is that you don't. You get a professional to do it. Someone who's done it before and has the insurance to prove it. Please do a usenet search before asking this question on r.a.t.s. - it usually leads to a couple of crackpot answers, the odd reasonable looking answer and a whole stream of the reasons why you shouldn't do it. In most situations you can get away without the effect with some creative staging and lighting.
Subject: 5. Flickering candles Rosco ( ) do some reasonable nine volt candles Rhett Bryson recommends Candle Lite Unlimited for 9V powered candles : Distributor: City Theatrical Inc. 752 East 133rd. St. Bronx, NY 10454 718-292-7932 718-292-7482 (fax) Manufacturer: Candle Lite Unlimited 2335 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92104 USA Phone/Fax: (619)280-2493 Pager: (619)685-0801 Contact: David C. Johnson Some speciality flicker dimmers are available from RA Gray, Division of Communications Company, Inc. 9181 Chesapeake Drive San Diego, CA 92123 USA Phone: (619)560-4162 Fax: (619)560-1923 Email: Contact: Kevin Cutter I've seen one home-made technique that's simple and works well: Get a real candle & drill out space for a 1.5V AA battery inside. Take two low voltage light bulbs. Carefully smash the glass capsule of one of them. Connect them in series (parallel?) and mount them at the top of the candle. As the actor moves around stage the air moving past the bare filament varies it's resistance, making the other bulb flicker, dimming in the breeze. If anyone's used this and remembers the details drop me a line - TCI have a more complicated approach at Scott Keszler ( ) of SRK Consulting ( , Tel/Fax: 1-701-234-9150) makes candles similar to candle-lites, with three tiny bulbs embedded in a tinted plastic 'flame' driven by a flicker circuit. Scott builds to order, and will sell you the mechanism and flame for $16 or custom built candles (with built-in or external switch, battery or external 9V power etc.) for $20. He can also provide spare flames and bare PCBs. There are pictures and more information available at Lighting Technology Group ( sell a range of Electronic Flicker Candles. I have not used these and have no idea how good they are...
Subject: 6. Masks? Norcostco have some Mask info available at
Subject: 7. Cutting styrofoam or Polystyrene For small parts where finish isn't critical a bread knife is pretty good. A hot-knife cutter is the easiest way to cut these foams, and gives a good smooth finish. A typical hot knife is a length of wire stretched in an insulating frame with a constant current passed through it. The hot wire melts it's way through the foam. There are some health issues with polystyrene: It gives off styrene monomer which is listed as a weak animal carcinogen. MSDS exposure levels are as follows:STYRENE PEL (OSHA) : 100 ppm, 8 Hr. TWA 200 ppm, Ceiling 600 ppm - 5 Min. Max. TLV(ACGIH) : 50 ppm, 213 mg/m3, 8 Hr. TWA, Skin STEL 100 ppm, 426 mg/m3 Most foams probably give off fumes when heated, so always make sure you have good ventilation. Another good way is to use a electric carving knife. The same kind you use on a turkey at Thanksgiving. This works best on foam rubber.
Subject: 8. Toffee glass / Candy glass bottles? By weight mix 7 parts sugar, 3 parts corn syrup and 2 parts water. Add food dye to colour, or use brown sugar for brown glass. Heat until it melts/dissolves at 225F or 108C. Let it cool - as it starts to harden pour it into the mould, then tilt the mould to cover all the surfaces. Monta Elkins found that this didn't work at 225F, but 300F worked well. Also, use the clearest corn-syrup you can find, as the slight yellow colour shows in the completed glass. Adding vanilla essence makes the failures taste good enough to eat. Dave Porter suggests covering a bottle with a carefully smoothed layer of foil, then many more layers of possibly crumpled foil. Cut this in half and use it as a slip mould for toffee glass bottles. Be wary of hot sugar syrup. It hurts. Use gloves. Toffee glass is hard to get right and incredibly messy when it goes wrong. A number of people have recommended using casting resin to make breakaway glassware instead. ANA have been recommended for breakaway bottles, furniture etc. ANA Special Effects 7021 Hayvenhurst Ave. Van Nuys, California 91406 (818) 909-6999 Another source for breakaway resin (ordinary polyester or epoxy resin isn't any good for this) is: Zeller International Main Street Downsville, NY USA 13755-0375 tel 607-363-7792 They have a catalogue and price list of their breakaway and other SPFX products.
Subject: 9. How can you make realistic whip marks on an actors back? I made whips of sisal rope with the rope strands separated (cat'o nine tails), coloured them a deap leather brown and then saturated the rope strands with Doc Martin Cherry Red boot polish where the strands hit the actor's back. The boot polish washes off both the set and actor and the effect did not splatter blood on other actors
Subject: 10. Flying People Generally you should not attempt this yourself. Aside from possible insurance/liability problems (applicable more to US residents than the rest of the world) you will find that the cost of having the appropriate harnesses and suspension gear made will be greater than the cost of hiring in professionals to do it for you. Under no circumstances should you attempt to modify climbing equipment or parachute harnesses to use for this purpose - it isn't worth the risk. Ordinary tab tracks have also be suggested for suspending people from - if you have any sense don't try that either. OK the weight of the tabs may be greater overall than that of a person, but the load is spread along the whole length of the track, not just at one point
Subject: 11. Spliffs? Joints? Reefers? Marijuana cigarettes? Most places the local authorities get upset if you use these on stage, but there are shows where you need them. Some substitutes from r.a.t.stagecraft: * Herbal cigarettes, such as 'Herbal Gold' ("pleasant, incense-like aroma reminiscent of a Grateful Dead concert") * Tobaccoless cigarettes, such as 'Honey Rose' or 'Kickum' * Joints rolled from catnip (or catnip tea) ("same plant group as marijuana, so realistic smell; didn't make the actors sick") * Ginseng cigarettes. * Oregano (?) * Nettle tea mixed with some mild tobacco ("It was so realistic the narcotics division came backstage after the show...") Make sure your actor knows how to roll a spliff. If they don't know how, get one of the rest of the cast to show them. Someone will know. A significant part of the audience knows exactly how to roll a spliff, so you want to ensure the show looks realistic to them.
Subject: 12. Smoke, fog, haze, CO2, LN2? What's the difference? There are at least five different sorts of smoke/fog/mist used in theatre Pyrotechnics These are the only way of producing a truly coloured smoke. The dyes used will mark scenery or drapes nearby. Pyroflash cartridges produce a jet of deeply coloured dense smoke for seven or thirty seconds when fired, and I think Stage FX pods produce smoke for about twenty seconds. Flashpots, gerbs and any other pyro effect will produce a lot of white smoke in addition to the main effect. All pyro safety precautions must be observed, See the FAQ entry for pyrotechnics for more information. Smoke guns Smoke guns feed a liquid ('smoke juice') into a heated chamber. It vaporizes and produces a jet of dense white smoke. Cheap smoke machines tend to use a pressurised canister of juice, whilst the more expensive ones use an electric pump to feed juice from an external tank into the chamber. The electrically pumped machines tend to give a lot more control, and the juice is a lot cheaper than the pressurised canisters. Pressurised canister machines can be plugged in for a while to get the block hot, then can be unplugged and moved around the stage and still work. (There is one rechargable pumped gun that can be used cordless, the Scottie) The smoke will hang in the air for a time, depending on the ventilation of the building and the formula of smoke juice used (clubs generally use economical long lifetime smoke juice, whilst theatres tend to use short lifetime juice for more control). The dense jet of smoke is a bit obvious in some contexts. One answer is to deliver the smoke through flexible ducting. Most (all?) machines have an adapter available that makes it easy to connect ducting to the machine. You can buy expensive black flexible ducting from the smoke gun supplier or use cheaper tumble-dryer exhaust ducting. Another approach is to control the output of the gun. Most pumped guns have a control that lets you dribble smoke out of the gun at varying rates. One or two (aimed at the club market, presumably) have optical sensors available to maintain a constant density of smoke in a space. Smoke from a smoke gun can't be coloured, but the dense white smoke takes colour from lighting well. Haze fluid is available for some smoke guns. This produces a very pale smoke, quite unlike the normal dense smoke. It's not as obvious as normal smoke, until you shine light through it. It's nowhere near as good as cracked-oil haze, but you can use it for some of the same effects for a fraction of the price. Don't try and make your own smoke juice or your own smoke machine. Don't try and use a garden fogger as a smoke gun. Don't use smoke juice in a machine it isn't recommended for. Using the wrong block temperature/fog juice combination can produce irritant, carcinogenic or toxic gasses. Flavoured smoke juice is available, often at a discount over normal juice. Don't use it. If the cast don't lynch you your crew will. Pina Colada smoke juice is particularly nasty. Allergic reactions. Some actors will believe that smoke will cause them to cough (as will the audience). In my experience this is pretty much psychological. Newbie actors will choke for a while, but people who've worked with smoke before won't notice it. Ensure your cast get a chance to rehearse with smoke before the dress. Smoke will dry the throats of singers or woodwind/brass players and should be avoided or minimised if you can. Smoke chillers. If you chill smoke using solid CO2 you can produce a low-lying smoke. It's not as low to the floor as CO2 smoke, and will drift up as people move. It's a very nice effect, particularly for nighttime marsh or docks scenes. Not bad for 'victorian london' too. I've never used a commercial chiller but have had very good results with homemade chillers, made from a large box with an inlet at one end, an outlet at the other and baffles inbetween. Shelves made of wire mesh hold the dry-ice that chills the smoke. I've seen people pack smoke ducting with dry-ice for this effect, but it doesn't work as well. Dry-ice or CO2 A dry-ice smoke kettle is a sealed plastic box with electric heating elements in the bottom, and a metal basket that can be raised or lowered (think deep-fat dryer). The lower half is filled with water; brought to near boiling by the electric elements. The basket is filled with dry-ice. When the smoke is needed the basket is lowered into the hot water. The dry-ice sublimes and produces a very dense white water-vapour smoke. This is forced out of a nozzle on the front of the kettle. These consume a lot of power, 7 or 8 kW for a medium sized kettle. Dry-ice smoke is very dense and low-lying. 'Jekyll and Hyde' effects can be produced by dropping dry-ice pellets into a beaker of hot water. Dry-ice can be bought cheaply from frozen food distributors, or 'borrowed' from university physics departments. It can be stored in a polystyrene box or coolbox for 2-4 days. Make sure that the coolbox isn't airtight - the CO2 buildup can blow the lid off. Liquid nitrogen foggers Liquid nitrogen smoke machines work by spraying a fine mist of liquid nitrogen. This drops the temperature of the air and causes atmospheric moisture to condense into a low lying, natural looking fog LN2 fog is common at fixed installations, such as theme parks, but can be useful on stage. Interesting Products answer some LN2 fogger questions at Cracked-oil foggers These produce a nearly transparent haze that scatters light well. Beams of light are clearly visible in the haze, but the haze itself isn't visible. A beautiful effect, but I've never been able to afford to rent one.
Subject: 13. How do I clean my smoke machine? Some Rosco smoke machines have an air inlet for compressed air cleaning. Most manufacturers recommend flushing the machine through with distilled water occasionally, just run with distilled water instead of smoke fluid (this isn't for compressed canister guns...). Rosco's instructions for the 1500 say to run the unit without fluid until nothing comes out, then run distilled water through it, and again to run it until it nothing comes out before putting it away. (When storing the unit, it should be dry inside to prevent corrosion and "gunking up".) If the output is weak, sputtering or not straight you may need to unclog the nozzle. Unbend a large paper clip and use it to ungunk whatever is in the nozzle hole. DISCONNECT THE MACHINE AND ALLOW IT TO COOL FIRST! Check with your manual, or your local dealer.
Subject: 14. How do you make smoke rings? From Stephen Mayotte, I built a gadget that does this last year. It's called a "puff box". There's really nothing to it. Start with a good sized cardboard box-- say 2' by 2' by 2' for example. Remove 1 side of the box and replace it with some sort of flexible membrane. I used 4 mil poly sheeting. Some sort of rubber would be much better. On the side opposite the membrane, cut a round hole in the middle. Experiment with the size. I made mine 4" because I needed to charge the box with a F-100 smoke machine. The hole for a Rosco fogger would be smaller. Anyway, fill the box with smoke. Whack the membrane and ta-dah! It's really easy. Everyone who sees it figures you must be a genius. You can make a small flap to cover the hole. That way, you can fill the box up and not lose your smoke right away. You should be able to get at least 1/2 dozen good rings before needing to refill.
Subject: 15. Pyrotechnics - explosions, flashes, smoke Safety * Always use professionally made pyrotechnics, don't improvise them (not even flashpowder) * Use a commercial control box, with a removable safety key * Never smoke while handling pyrotechnics * Unpack the pyro in a safe place, away from anything flammable * Store pyro in it's packaging until you use it * Never put pyro in your pockets * Turn the control box off and take the key with you while loading pyro * If the pyro is a cartridge designed to be used in a pod, use a real pod, don't just twist wire to the terminals * Ensure that each pyro position can be clearly seen from the control position * Never fire a pyro effect unless you can clearly see the area is clear of cast and crew * Always wear safety goggles or a face shield when loading pyro. * Always clean your flashpots before loading them. (reduces "shrapnel") * Never try re-firing a dud. Soak it in water and destroy it by tearing it to pieces. * Never dispose of destroyed pyro duds in the trash; use a "safe can". * Never fire pyro over an audience. Two manufacturers of theatrical pyro are Le Maitre ( ) and Jem (no web site, but pictures and descriptions at ). Le Maitre's PyroFlash system and Jem's Stage FX are similar in many respects. They have a control box, a number of 'pods' connected by cable to the control box and a range of pyro cartridges that can be plugged into the pods. Effects cartridges include * Flash - a bright white or coloured flash and puff of smoke * Starburst - similar to the flash, with a spray of silver or gold stars * Smoke - Dense white or coloured smoke, burning for tens of seconds * Fire - intense coloured flames and white smoke * Whistler - Loud screaming noise * Glitter or confetti - Loud bang and a spray of confetti or glitter Other effects include gerbs, maroons and confetti cannon. Gerbs spray white or gold stars in a 30+ foot jet for a few tens of seconds. These are spectacular for outdoor performances, but think very carefully before trying to use them indoors - they spray white-hot fragments a long way. Maroons come in a range of sizes. The smallest ones make a very loud bang. The larger ones are very, very loud. Maroons should only ever be fired in a bomb tank - this is a heavy metal tank with an open top covered with a metal mesh. When fired they will throw fragments out of the top of the tank. Always put up clear warning notices near the bomb tank, ensure everyone knows you're using maroons and ensure no-one is near the tank when you fire the maroon. A confetti cannon is a short cannon which uses a maroon to fire confetti (or glitter or fireproofed leaves or...) into a huge swirling cloud.
Subject: 16. Refilling beverage cans I'm trying to empty a beer can and refill it with a less inebreating liquid. If I use water, I can reseal holes punched in the bottom with tape. If I try to use a carbonated beverage, it leaks. Any suggestions? If you can find a can of soda or another beverage which just fits inside your beer can (many do), you can cut the top off the beer can and slip the other unopened can inside. This has the advantage of allowing the actor to pop the top on the "beer". The beer can top has to be cut off BELOW the rolled rim, so that the cut edge will slide up under the rim of the outer can. Be sure this edge is flat and as smooth as possible. You'll still probably want to wrap a strip of clear tape around the whole edge for actor safety.
Subject: 17. Welch vacuum forming pump Does anyone have some info or a manual for a Welch Duo seal 1405 model vacuum pump which I have recently purchased for a shop made vacuum former. Or any advice on the construction of a small vacuum formed with about a 200ltr reservoir capacity to pull a sheet about 1.2mt x 0.75mt.
Subject: 18. Berry Stains How do you simulate berry stains on clothing and hands with a material that can be washed out between performances?
Subject: 19. How do you cut mirror? I am the Asst Manager and Don Quixote for Man of La Mancha and i am not sure on how to make the "Knight of the Mirrors" shields. I already have the basic shield done(made from foam board) and now i have the problem with the mirror part. Any ideas please contact me ASAP!!!!!
Subject: 20.
Subject: CAD and other software (/cad/)
Subject: 1. Are there any lighting symbols freely available for download? There are some in DXF format at the following sites * (lots of good stuff, including a lot of CAD symbols in both DWG{AutoCAD} and DXF format.) *
Subject: Other miscellaneous stuff (/misc/)
Subject: 1. How do I contact ArtSearch? ArtSEARCH Theatre Communications Group Attn: Order Department 355 Lexington Ave New York, NY 10017 Tel: +1 212 697 5230 Fax: +1 212 983 4847 email:
Subject: 2. What's a Green Room? It's the area backstage where actors and dressers lurk during the show. Why's it called a Green Room? Many, many reasons have been suggested. Please don't bring this up unless you have a definite cite for the origin of the phrase. All that's agreed upon is: The first known written use of the term is in 1701, and from the context the writer (English owner-actor/playwright Colley Cibber 1671-1735, Poet Laureate) expected people to recognise the term, so it was probably in common use by the end of the 1690s. Most lexicographers have concluded that the term did originate from the colour the early greenrooms were painted, but no-one has any firm reasons as to why they would have been painted green. [Thanks to Spence Porter] There's also a suggestion it may be a corruption of 'scene room' or 'screen room' - a room where scenery was stored. Some of the other (unsupported) reasons for the name that have been suggested are: * Because the plays originally took place outside on the village green. * Because the artificial grass (green carpet) was stored there. * Because the green was soothing to actors eyes (after they had come off from performing in front of limelight) * Because limelight has a green tint to it, so it made sense to apply makeup in a room with a green tint * It was where the shrubbery used on stage was stored, and the plants made it a cool comfortable place * The 'green' was jargon for the section of the stage visible to the public, so clearly the 'green room' was the room nearest the stage. (I like this one, but I haven't seen a cite for it yet.) * The room was walled with green baize as soundproofing, so actors could practice their lines.
Subject: 3. Why are stages painted black? To reduce reflections of stray light. They should be matt black, rather than gloss black to do this successfully.
Subject: 4. Teasers & Tormenters What is the origin of these terms?
Subject: Other resources (/other_resources/)
Subject: 1. Are there any related mailing lists? Stagecraft All aspects of stage work - contact THEATRE To subscribe send email to with one line in the body of the message 'SUB THEATRE Your Name' f-costume-digest Fantasy costuming - design and construction of all sorts of 'unusual' costumes. To subscribe, email with the words 'subscribe f-costume' in the body of your message. h-costume Historical costume design from the Bronze Age to the mid 20th century. Contact exhibitionists Cinema workers and projectionists. If you're not a projectionist, this probably isn't for you. Contact light-dev People developing lighting control hardware or software, those interested in other theatrical control and automation are also welcome. See Show-Fire The Show-Fire mailing list is for the discussion of special effects on stage or screen. Contact mentioning Show-Fire Theatre-Sound Sound for musicals, plays & live performance in general. Subscribe by sending email to with the text ' subscribe theatre-sound Your Name ' in the body of the message. Pro-Audio A moderated list for professionally oriented audio discussion. To subscribe send a message containing the single word 'subscribe' in the body of the message to or to . Stage Combat A forum for folks involved in theatrical stage combat to discuss the various aspects of the art. Send email to with the phrase 'subscribe stage-combat' in the body of the message (or the phrase 'subscribe stage-combat-digest' to get the digest version)
Subject: 2. What are some good books? PLASA list a number of books, with brief descriptions and ordering info at Effects for the Theatre by Graham Walne, ISBN 0-89676-136-3 US$25. How to build flaming torches, flash pots, scissor lifts, colour changers, gobos and lots of other stuff. Sound Design in the Theatre by John Bracewll ISBN 0-13-825167-3, Prentice-Hall. Out of print.
Subject: 3. What magazines are there? Lighting and Sound International Great mag, my favourite. Contact information, online subscriptions (visa/amex/MC/switch) and selected articles are available at . UKP50/yr in the UK, UKP65 or UKP90 outside the UK Lighting Dimensions Recomended by Bill Staines. Check out their web site at . For subscriptions contact (US$29.95 for 11 issues, US only) or by mail LIGHTING DIMENSIONS, 32 WEST 18 ST, NEW YORK, NY 10011-4612 or fax +1 212 229 2084 (Canada US$40.95, rest of world US$57.45 surface or US$79.45 air). Payment by cheque in US dollars or some other currencies (including sterling) or by credit card - email for details. Theatre Crafts International (TCI) Formerly Theatre Crafts. Recomended by Bill Staines. Check out their web site at . For subscriptions contact (US$24.95 for 10 issues, US only, AmEx, Discover, Visa, Mastercard) or by mail to TCI, 32 WEST 18 ST, NEW YORK, NY 10011-4612 or fax to +1 212 229 2084 (Canada US$34.95, rest of world US$49.95 surface, US$69.95 air). Payment by cheque in US dollars or some other currencies (including sterling) or by credit card - email for details. Connections, Australias Entertainment & Technology Monthly Web site at . A$39.50/yr in Australia, A$70 Asia, A$95 USA, A$100 UK & Europe. To subscribe email and they'll call you back for credit card info Dramatics Web site at . Educational theatre magazine published nine times a year. US$18/yr. CineFex Cinema effects, published quarterly. US$26/yr in USA, US$36 surface/US$46 air elsewhere. 800-434-3339, Fax 909-788-1793. CineFex, PO Box 20027, Riverside, CA92515, USA.
Subject: 4. Any other online resources? Jon Primrose maintains a very complete glossary of stagecraft terms, acronyms and jargon at The historical costuming FAQ can be found at The FAQ can be found at There's a list of stagecraft resources at The stagecraft list archives at have a good selection of info The Society for Creative Anachronism have a lot of useful information for historical costuming, props and production at The page for costuming info is Theatre Crafts International have a good selection of tips and howtos at
Subject: 5. Which newsgroups carry Stagecraft related material? alt.stagecraft The original stagecraft newsgroup. This was supposed to be replaced by but like many alt.* newsgroups it refused to die. alt.stagecraft is lower traffic than r.a.t.s.. There are often interesting threads on alt.stagecraft that don't get crossposted to r.a.t.stagecraft, so it's well worth reading both The 'official' stagecraft newsgroup. Lots of noise, but lots of signal too. Discussions are mostly about set, props, lighting and sound but any backstage topics are welcome. The Usenet2 stagecraft newsgroup. Pretty much the same charter and content as but as part of Usenet2 it should be nearly free of spam. See for information on how to get access to it and some posting rules A lot of good stuff here. Most people are discussing studio recording rather than sound reinforcement, but there's a lot of overlap. At the moment it's swamped with 'for sale' ads (so it's a good place to find second-hand equipment....) but it will hopefully split, adding a .marketplace subgroup sometime soon. Primarily for architectural lighting professionals, but you can occasionally pick up some really good ideas. alt.pyrotechnics Just one word. Don't. Look at rec.pyrotechnics instead. rec.pyrotechnics There are a lot of very knowledgable readers lurking here, and a lot of useful information, particularly about making your own pyro (and why you shouldn't). Most of the Kewl Bomz crowd get squashed fairly rapidly. I'm not even going to start trying to describe the Society for Creative Anachronism, I'll just say they're a nice bunch of unusual people and as a group they probably know more about historic and pseudo-historic costuming than anyone else. If you're a costumier or you do props it's well worth lurking here, if only to grab ideas and commercial contact info. (Also, if you need good, really good, historical costumes and are prepared to pay for them, some SCA members do commercial work.) is a group with it's own rules, more so than many. If you're not an SCA member yourself you should lurk for a while before even thinking about posting a polite inquiry. rec.crafts.textiles.sewing Lots of general sewing stuff - worth a look for a costumier rec.woodworking Well... It's about woodworking and woodworking tools. It may be of interest to the occasional setbuilder. comp.cad.autocad and comp.cad.microstation If you use one of the big two CAD tools these groups are a great support resource. sci.electronics.* Electronics design and finding odd components There are occasional relevant threads, but it's a very high traffic group with very little of interest to designers, or even choreographers.
Subject: Show production, tour management and arts management (/production/)
Subject: 1. What about copyright? Copyright is an issue with most shows. Rights to the show itself, the music used in the show, any images used in the show (even posters used as set dressing). Terry Carroll maintains the copyright FAQ and a lot of copyright resources and references at
Subject: 2. Saving money on posters, flyers, programs. Five things cost money when getting stuff printed: * Paper quality * Number of colours * Number of different things needing printing (posters, flyers etc.) * Amount of work the printers have to do * Urgency It's generally worth using decent paper if you can - the posters and flyers will look much more professional. If you're on a really tight budget then black printed onto a cheap coloured paper is better than nothing. Each impression (colour) costs money. Two or more impressions costs a lot more than one impression. Black tends to be cheaper than colour, particularly for a single impression poster. Posters printed black-on-white, then hand coloured with water-colours or touches of highlighter pen can look very effective if they're planned carefully. If you need posters and flyers printed consider trying to put one poster and two flyers on a single standard paper size, using the same colour impressions. This means the printer can put a single run through the press and cut it apart afterwards. This can give flyers almost for free. The less work the printer has to do, the cheaper things will be, and the more co-operative the printer will be the next time you use them. Prepare everything yourself. Borrow a machine with a good desktop publishing program and transfer your design onto it. Talk to your printer and find out exactly what format they like - most want camera-ready (full-size) copy, one original per impression. One thing to check with them is how much to flare each impression (to avoid gaps between colours). If you're a perfectionist or you do much graphic design try and get hold of a PanTone swatchbook, so you can define exactly the colour you want. Urgency. Order stuff early. Even if it looks like the price will be the same a week before the show as two months before the show. If you get camera-ready copy to the printer early they'll be more likely to give discount, either this time or next time. They'll also be much more sympathetic in the future when you *really* need a poster in 24 hours.
Subject: 3. 'Net access while touring Check . Anyone charging 10-15 cents (or local equivalent) for their freephone (1-800, 0800 etc.) number is a very good deal compared with hotel long distance rates. If approached properly, explaining that you're going to be spending a lot of money on room service and bar, many hotels will waive the per call charge on local and freephone rates. (Explaining this as wanting to call local business partners, to whom you'll recommend the hotel, rather than as ISP access might be a good move). Big national ISPs tend to have near 100% national coverage. In the US netcom/AOL are a good deal here, despite their other problems. In the UK (and Netherlands now?) Demon are hard to beat. [All disclaimers, etc.]
Subject: 4. Directories and Yearbooks United Kingdom British Performing Arts Yearbook Rhinegold Publishing Ltd, 241 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8EH Tel: (+44)171 333 1721. Fax: 333 1736 Extremely comprehensive directory covering London, England, Wales, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Northern Ireland. Full technical & administrative details on over 1500 performing arts venues of all types & sizes; details of companies of dance & drama; orchestras & ensembles from classical to light classical music; performing arts festivals; support organisations; local authorities; arts councils; consultancies & trade firms (35 categories). Indices on type of performing arts venue, audience capacity, company category, companies within regional arts board area, etc. Venue information also contains brief history of building plus details of any church/concert or cinema-type organ (Wurlitzer, Compton, etc) in the building. 1998 edition out in January 1998. Irish Performing Arts Yearbook Rhinegold Publishing Ltd. (See above) Covers Northern Ireland (repeat of section in British Performing Arts Yearbook) and the Republic of Ireland. Last edition 1996 Now property of Derry & Sheena Barbour, 43, Cleveland Road, Barnes, London SW13 0AA. UK. Tel: (+44) 181 876 6093 British & International Music Yearbook Rhinegold Publishing Ltd. (See above) Directory of venues, schools, orchestras, musicians, etc involved in the UK Classical Music scene. British Theatre Directory Richmond House Publishing Company Ltd. 9/11 Richmond Buildings, London W1V 5AF Tel: (+44) 171 437 9556. Fax: 287 3463 Covers much of the same ground as the British Performing Arts Yearbook, but not in such detail. The White Book The White Book, Bank House, 23 Warwick Road, Coventry, Warwickshire CV1 2EW Tel : (+44) 1203 559658. Fax : 252241 Covers the Entertainment Industry in depth, but more on the variety, recording, and "pop" side than on serious Theatre. Venues, Trade Firms, Acts, etc - 30,000 listings in 400 categories. McGillivray's Theatre Guide (formerly British Alternative Theatre Directory) Someone else may be able to help with this - We have a 1994 guide, but there appears to be no record of the publishers still being in existence. The address of the last publishers (Rebecca Books) was in Brecon, North Wales in 1994. If still in existence, deals mainly with "fringe" venues & companies in the UK with a section on fringe venues in New York. Needs someone in the UK to check it out (According to the UCambridge library and the library of congress 1994 is the most recent edition, so it's probably deceased. The ISBN is 0142-5218 if you need to find it. -- Steve) Contacts - The Spotlight Casting Directory 7 Leicester Place, (off Leicester Square), London WC2H 7BP Tel: (+44) 171 437 7631. Fax: 437 5881 Annual (October) directory giving basic contact details for Artists, Companies, Venues, Trade Firms, Managements, etc. NOTE : There may be some Amateur Theatre Directories around, maybe someone else can help with these. Republic of Ireland Irish Performing Arts Yearbook See entry under United Kingdom Stagecast Directory Same as "Contacts" in the UK - now presumed defunct. Mainly photos of Actors/Actresses and various addresses. Europe PAYE (Performing Arts Yearbook for Europe) Arts Publishing International Ltd 4 Assam Street, London E1 7QS Tel: (+44) 171 247 0066. Fax: 247 6868 Covers ALL countries in Europe + Eastern Europe & Russia. Very sparse & basic details on some venues, festivals, arts organisations, companies, ministries of culture, etc. Denmark Teater i Danmark (Danish Theatre Yearbook) Dansk ITI, Vesterbrogade 26, 3, 1620 Copenhagen Tel : (+45) 3122 7500. Fax : 3124 0157 Venues & productions. Finland Theatterialan Avain/Osoite ja Puhelinnumerohakemisto Teatterin Tiedotuskeskus Ry, Teatterikulma, Meritullinkatu 33, 00170 Helsinki Tel : (+358) 135 5550. Fax: 135 5522 Theatre & Dance Contacts in Finland. France Annuaire du Spectacle Publications Mandel, BP 1219, 78202 Nantes la Jolie Tel: (+33) 1 3098 3210. Fax: 1 3098 3200 Comprehensive listing of Organisations in the performing arts. Book Technique du Spectacle 58 Rue Servan, 75011 Paris Tel : (+33) 1 4700 1952. Fax : 1 4355 8194. Directory of Trade Firms supplying equipment for the performing arts. Festivals et Expositions/Saison Culturelle Ministere de la Culture et de la Communication, 3 Rue de Valois, 75042 Paris Tel: (+33) 1 4015 8390. Fax: 1 4015 8552 Directory of contacts , addresses, dates of Festivals & Exhibitions in France. "Guide Culturel d'Ete" covers the Summer months, "La Saison Culturel - Guide Culturel de l'Hiver" covers the Winter months. Goliath c/o Hors les Murs, 74 Avenue Pablo Picasso, 92000 Nanterre Tel: (+33) 1 4669 9696. Fax: 1 4669 9698 Biennial Directory covering Street Theatre companies, suppliers, agents, etc. Germany Deutsches Buhnen-Jahrbuch (German Stage Yearbook) Gennossenschaft Deutscher Angehoriger im Verlag der Buhnenschriften-Vetreibs-Gesellschaft, mbH, Postfach 130270, 20102 Hamburg Tel: (+49) 40 445 185 / 443 870 Fax : 40 456 002 Directory of German Theatres, Festivals, companies of drama, opera & dance. Konzert Almanach Heel Verlag GmbH, Wintermuhlenhof, 53639 Konigswinter Tel: (+49) 2223 92300. Fax: 2223 923013 Concert calendar plus seat plans of venues in Germany. Programme info on concerts in Austria & Switzerland. Theateralmanach Edition Smidt, Wolfratshauser Strasse 55, 82049 Pullach im Isartal Tel: (+49) 89 793 8180 Fax: 89 793 8180 Theatre directory for Austria, Germany & Switzerland. Belgium International Festival Guide European Network of Information Centres for the Performing Arts, Vlaams Theatre Institut, Sainctelettesquare 19, 1210 Bruxelles Tel: (+32) 2-201 0906 Fax: 2-209 0205 European festival listings on floppy disc. Italy Annuario Musicale Italiano (Italian Musical Yearbook) Comitato Nazionale Italiano Musica (CIDIM), Via Vittoria Colonna 18, 00193 Roma Tel: (+39) 6 6880 2402 / 2900 Fax : 6 687 4989 Directory of the Italian Musical scene with info on lyric theatres, orchestras, ensembles, music festivals, etc. Available also on floppy disc or CD ROM. Annuario EDT dell'Opera Lirica in Italia (EDT Yearbook of Lyric Opera in Italy) EDT, Via Alfieri 19, 10121 Torino (Turin) Tel: (+39) 11 562 1496 Fax : 11 517 6091 Listings of Lyric Theatres & Opera Houses, Companies, Choreographers, Opera Companies, etc. The Netherlands (Holland) Theaterjaarboek Theatre Institute Nederland, PO Box 19304, 1000 GH Amsterdam Tel: (+31) 20 623 5104 Fax: 20 620 0051 Directory of Dutch companies, festivals, etc. Norway Pa Norske Scener De norske teatres forening, Pilestredet 15B, 0614 Oslo Tel: (+47) 2220 7200 Fax: 2220 7510 Yearbook of Norwegian theatre companies, festivals, & TV/Radio drama. Serbia Godisnjak Jugoslovenskih Pozorista (Yugoslav Theatre Yearbook) Sterijino Pozorje, Zmaj-Jovina 22/1, 21000 Novi Sad (Vojvodina) Tel : (+381) ** NO further details ** Spain Agenda Clave Avenida Gaudi 10, 2ffl 1ffl, 08025 Barcelona Tel: (+34) 3 347 5199 Fax: 3 456 1729 Directory of the Spanish Music & Showbusiness Industry. Anuario de Titeres y Marionetas (Puppet Yearbook) Centro de Documentacisn de Titeres de Bilbao, c/o Circo Amateur del Club Deportes N:.2, 48004 Bilbao Tel: (+34) 4 412 7451 Fax: 4 424 2550 Covering venues, festivals, companies etc involved in Puppetry. Guia Teatral De Espaqa (Spanish Theatre Guide) Centro de Documentacisn Teatral, Capitan Haya 44, 28020 Madrid Tel: (+34) 1 572 3311/12/13/14 Fax : 1 570 5199 Bi-annual guide to theatres, companies, festivals, services, etc. in Spain. Recursos Musicales en Espaqa (Musical Resources in Spain) Centro de Documentacisn Musical, Insituto Nacional de las Artes Escenicas y de la Musica, Torregalindo 10, 28016 Madrid Tel: (+34) 1 350 8600 Fax: 1 359 1579 Directory of Orchestras, Choirs, Ensembles, Festivals, etc for the Spanish musical scene. Switzerland Schweizer Musik-Handbuch (Swiss Music Guide) Atlantis Musikbuch-Verlag, Tramstrasse 71, 8050 Zurich Tel: (+41) 1 311 6633 Fax: 1 311 6644 Directory of Orchestras, Festivals, Agents, Jazz Groups, etc in Switzerland. United States The Book of the Road (1975) Warner Bros. Records Inc., 3701 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California 91505 Directory of large scale venues in 50 US towns mainly aimed at the Rock & Pop scene - technical specifications, etc. ??Possibly out of date and no longer published ?? South Africa Contacts/Kontakte Limelight Publications, 69 Ferero Avenue, Randpark Ridge Ext 18, PO Box 760, 2156 Johannesburg Tel: (+27) 11 793 7231/2 Fax : 11 792 2679 Directory for the Theatre, Television & Film Industry. Venues, Companies, Trade Firms, etc in South Africa, Namibia & Zimbabwe. Miscellaneous Theatrewords available though ABTT (Association of British Theatre Technicians), 47 Bermonsey Square, London SE1 3XT. UK Tel : (+44) 171 403 3778 Fax : 378 6170 And through USITT (United States Insitute of Theater Technology), 10 West 19th Street, Suite 5a, New York, NY 10011 Tel: (+1) 212 924 9088 Technical Theatrical Terms in 9 Languages. The Languages are : English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Japanese (written & phonetic) - possibly American as well. "Theatrewords" is a publication giving the most common technical theatrical terms as an aide to touring companies & technicians. The sections are : Stage; Workshop; Electrics (Lighting); Sound; Wardrobe; Wigs; Administration and Basic numbers. Maybe Norwegian & Danish are covered by the Swedish Section, and Portuguese by the Spanish Section. I understand Russian was also meant to be included - but they failed to get their act together......... Also available from Carla Lancaster, Book Bazzar, 42 Sydney Street, London SW3 6PS. UK. Tel: (+44) 171 352 6810 Fax: 351 5728 Abroad, National Associations of Theatre Technicians should be able to get hold of or stock the publication through their office of OISTAT (International Organisation of Sceneographers, Theatre Architects & Technicians). Curtains!!! Or, A New Life For Old Theatres (1982 Edition) c/o The Theatres Trust, 22 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HR Tel: (+44) 171 836 8591 Fax: 836 3302 Complete Gazeteer of all the surviving pre-1914 Theatres & Music Halls in the UK. Lists whether demolished, derelict, or still in use. The Theatres Trust are in the process of collating information to include Theatres, etc built AFTER 1914 for another edition possibly by 1999. Thanks to thespis (Derry & Sheena Barbour)
Subject: 5. Script publishers information Dramatists Play Service 440 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10016 Tel: 212-683-8960 Fax: 212-213-1539 e-mail: web: Samuel French (New York Office) 45 West 25th Street New York, NY 10010 Tel: 212-206-8990 Fax: 212-206-1429
Subject: Stage Management (/stage_management/)
Subject: 1. What are cue lights? They're small lights controlled by the stage-manager allowing her to cue stage-crew and front of house operators. Most people who've used them far prefer cue-lights + headsets to headsets alone. Many, particularly sound engineers & flymen, are happy running with just cue-lights There seem to be two main flavours of cue lights. The type I'm familiar with seems to be common in the UK. Each remote cue-light position has a red light, a green light and a button. The stage manager has a red light, a green light and a three-way switch for each remote position The SM moves the switch to 'standby' and both red lights start flashing. The crewman presses the button to acknowledge and the red lights go to steady-on. Then the SM moves the switch to 'go', both red lights go out, both green lights go on. The SM releases the switch and both lights go out. These are nice, as the SM has feedback from the crew, and with an explicit 'go' light it's easy to cue rapid sequences of cues (standby, acknowledge, go, go, go). The downside is slightly more complex hardware. An even better variant of this has separate switches at he SMs desk for standby and go. The go switch is a three-way, centre-off biased one-way toggle switch. Moved to the biased position it turns on the go light. Moved to the non-biased position it transfers control to a master go switch. This makes it easy to go on multiple crew simultaneously. The other flavour I know of is a single light at the remote position with a switch at the SMs desk. These are used on-for-standby followed by off-for-go, I believe. Anyone familiar with them want to correct me?
Subject: 2. What should be in a stage managers toolkit? Well, this is what I have: Pens, lots of pens. Pencils. Notepad, larger pad of paper. Yellow post-it notes, big & little. White-out. Highlighter pens. Spirit markers. Painkillers & plasters (note, giving these to people is a very bad idea under some legislatures, including US & UK. I allow people to steal them, but would *never* give them to somebody). Safety pins. Needle and thread. (For when wardrobe have vanished) Sellotape, LX tape, Gaffer tape - black and white. Masking tape for marking up cue-lights. Paper glue, stapler (good for costumes as well as paperwork...) Screwdriver. Stanley knife. Chocolate, for those endless techs. Stuff to keep actors amused & quiet - this started when I did kids shows, but is handy for adult actors too - cards, travel games. Wet wipes. Tissues. Copies of company contact list, props list, local list of 'phone numbers (printers, fire marshall, local hospital, places to get *anything* at short notice). Maglight or other torch. Dark gel for dimming down working lights. Glow tape. Probably overkill - if you have co-operative wardrobe & tech-crew around they'll deal with the problems and you'll never need half of this stuff.

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