Grandfather Says: High-Wire Theater and Church Improvements

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Original oil painting by: Grandfather’s wife

Grandfather says he supposes you’ve noticed how many technical credits are listed following a movie. Amateur productions also need some of that kind of support.

In productions Grandfather helped with, there were chronic technical shortcomings in each of two buildings. The first was a theater in Washington DC, where the distance stage-front to stage-back was too limited to allow good stage front lighting from the usual location, the proscenium arch.

So, Grandfather crouched along on boards laid above rods suspended with wires from the rafters which, in turn, supported steel mesh and the ceiling’s plaster. Missteps not allowed; one such and Grandfather would crash through the ceiling and land in the seats.

Then he suspended flood lights through the ceiling, out over the audience far enough to illuminate stage front. Great care was taken to make sure the ceiling rod — the wire suspension system was more than strong enough to bear the extra load and that redundant, long-lifetime mounting of each light made the scheme safe.

Could you imagine the hubbub if one came loose and conked a theatergoer on the head? Only contingency fee lawyers could applaud.

The second was a church; same ceiling construction, but this time, microphones were needed out in front of the choir loft in the balcony at the rear of the sanctuary. These were coordinated through a mixer with a new pulpit microphone and the audio feed to a local radio station, so all parts of an event could be clearly heard.

So it was that Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and Handel’s “The Messiah” were more satisfactorily presented.


About the Author: RD Blakeslee is an octogenarian from West Virginia who built his net worth by only investing in that which can be enjoyed during acquisition and throughout life, as opposed to papers in a drawer, like stocks and bonds. You can read more about him here.

Photos: Courtesy of the Blakeslee Family

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