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Seance scene: Table needs to "float" and jump about. Anyone...

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Question by Chris Hale
Submitted on 7/10/2003
Related FAQ: Stagecraft Frequently Asked Questions
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Seance scene: Table needs to "float" and jump about. Anyone know how to do it convincingly WITHOUT the actors having to do it themselves. (That always looks really fake!)


Answer by Craig Anderson
Submitted on 5/21/2004
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For "Blithe Spirit" I used eight wire loops folded flat on the table top and blended into the flower pattern of the tablecloth into which the actors slid a finger of each hand. As for "fakiness": If the actors practice keeping their hands flat and mimic "pushing down" when they're actually lifting, it doesn't look fake at all; our audiences were all fooled. What really looks fake is any attempt to fly the table with wires from above.
The stage magic illusion of levitation is done with a metal bar extending out behind the table, through the scene flat, to a fulcrum behind the flat. If the sightlines are perfect and the distance from the flat is small, that's totally undetectable.

Craig Anderson Magic Effects Laboratory of Theatre (CAMELOT)


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