Theatres are impressive establishments designed to support specific activities and while most people only notice the façade, there is actually a lot of work behind what the audience sees. There are plenty of complicated systems and complex pieces of equipment that make possible the staging process, not to mention the props and decorations. Stage curtains and drapes, for instance, are one of the most remarkable elements in theatres. They mask backstage and create mystery, thus increasing public’s attention and curiosity. Although they seem to be a mere piece of cloth that can be easily operated and manoeuvred, their functionality is based on an intricate installation and maintenance system. Given the fact that drapes have been designed to serve multiple purposes, there are various types of theatre curtains and drapes.
Drape particularities – relevant details you should know
You may think that choosing theatre curtains is something easy, since there are plenty of options available on the market, but this is not actually true. Each type of drapes serves a certain purpose and has particular features, but what they have in common is that they are all made of dark coloured (even black) materials, in order to absorb light. Furthermore, most such cloths available in the dedicated industry are made of a fabric called heavyweight velour.
Installation and security
At first glance, it may seem that taking care of the drapes and curtains of a theatre is something easy. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not true. It requires a lot of coordination, timing, attention to details and knowledge. But before this, you also have to hire a professional company in charge with safe stage services, in order to get proper installation of the curtains. Do not neglect this, because improperly functioning drapes are likely to lead to severe accidents. The system enabling the cloth to go up and down and slide from one part to another consists in heavy beams, pipes and cables, which have to be in perfect condition. Any flaw can cost theatre management not only a lot of money, but also the safety of those on stage and behind the show. For this reason, professional installation and stage safety plays an important role in the economy of any theatre.
How are curtains operated?
Proscenium theatres are the ones where drapes play the most important role. These establishments use complex systems where curtains are suspended from the ceiling, through a network of battens that are controlled by the means of a fly system. This way, drapes are “flown”, as experts call the process: this means they move from one part to another, or up and down, depending on the show’s requirements. The task of adjusting speed or height is also kind of complicated, since it involves perfect timing and a masking effect. The performing operational system enables the curtain to cover only part of the stage, hide certain details or float above the stage, depending on what the play requires.