des by stariya


									                        tower theatre

                          NOTES FOR

Issue 7
March 2010
Written by : Dorothy Wright
Updated by Laurence Tuerk & Jude Chalk & Moira McSperrin
Version 7

                                           March 2010

INTRODUCTION                                            4

  THE BUDGET PRODUCTION MEETING                          5
  PLANNING YOUR BUILDING TIME                            5
  ORGANISING A BUILDING CREW                             5
  KEYS                                                   6
  GETTING INTO THE THEATRE                               6
    Getting the set finished                             7
    Painting the Floor                                   7
    The Clear-Up                                         7
  THE STRIKE                                             7
TOWER INVENTORY                                         8
  W HERE TO FIND THINGS:                                 8
  TOOLS                                                  8
  FLATS                                                  9
  ROSTRA                                                 9
  LEGS FOR ROSTRA                                       10
  TRUCKS                                                10
  STAIRS                                                10
  CYC                                                   10
  GAUZES                                                10
  ROLLER DROPS                                          10
  BLACKS                                                10
  SET HARDWARE                                          10
  SET DRESSING                                          10
    Curtains, Cushions & Bedspreads                     11
    Rugs                                                11
    Other Set Dressing                                  11
  STAGE ELECTRICS                                       11
MATERIALS                                               11
  W OOD                                                 11
  PAINT                                                 12
  GLAZE & VARNISH                                       12
  PLASTICS                                              13
    Windows                                             13
    Vac-form                                            13
  GAUZES                                                13
  CONSUMABLES                                           13
    Nails & Screws                                      13
    Paint Brushes & Rollers                             14
    Tape                                                14
  SET HARDWARE                                          14
PLACING ORDERS                                          14

SUPPLIERS                                               14

HIRE PLACES                                             15
  STRUCTURAL, LIGHTING                                  15
  FURNITURE                                             16

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  PROPS/SET DRESSING                                                  16
  W EAPONS                                                            16
FIRE & SAFETY REGULATIONS                                             16
  STROBE LIGHTS AND PYROTECHNICS                                      17
  W EAPONS REGULATIONS                                                17
FIREPROOFING                                                          17
  FLAMEBAR SOLUTIONS                                                  17
  FIREPROOFING POLYSTYRENE.                                           18
  FIREPROOF PAINT                                                     18

                 These notes must be followed at all venues used by
                           the Tower Theatre Company.

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These notes have been put together to help both new & experienced set designers working
with the Tower Company. Please feel free to let anyone on the Technical Group know about
new suppliers, new stock, new builders, problems with these notes, etc. so that they can be
improved to help make the technical side of putting on a production a bit more efficient for the
next person.

There is a set design ring binder in the Tower Office with catalogues, price lists, colour
charts, etc, any information that we have been able to obtain. This is for reference only,
please do not remove from the office. Please feel free to add any new info to the binder so
that it is available for future set designers.

A General Production Contact list including the Technical Group names and numbers along
with various other useful phone numbers should have been included with these notes. If you
do not have a copy, check in the Technical Manual in the office for the most up-to-date
version. It should be updated by the beginning of each season and it should specify which
season it is for.

Production Timescale for Set Design

Design Production Meetings & Design Timetable
As soon as possible you should discuss the design with the director. This must be done
early to allow time for the design process (you may wish to begin even before the play is cast),
and to allow time to clarify ideas as the early rehearsals begin. If the director does not
instigate this meeting, feel free to pursue him/her yourself. Please, both of you try to be
realistic, taking into account the budget, the time to build the set and the limitations of the
venue. If the venue’s standard seating plan is to be altered, this must be cleared with
the Artistic Director and the venue well in advance of the show so those seats are not

Go on a reconnaissance to the stores at the arches to look for furniture as early as possible to
determine if you will need to hire or borrow from elsewhere. Try to arrange this at a time when
the director can go with you. If necessary, go to furniture hire places together (see section on
Hire Places). Please hire only if absolutely necessary.

You will need to produce a design, to identify difficulties, safety issues or unusual expenses
involved with your production. The design meetings need to be held far enough in advance of
the budget production meeting that a designs/models/ideas etc. can be brought to budget
meeting. Get a proper floor plan to the director as early as possible to aid in the blocking

Please talk to the lighting designer about your set as early as possible (preferably before
the design is finalised). Issues that will concern the lighting designer include windows,
practicals, masking flats, drapes, use of gauzes, other curtains that may be rigged, what
lighting bars will be used by the set (for curtains or set pieces), anything that may affect or
interfere with lighting positions. If you will have two back walls (i.e. a back wall of the set with
windows and a masking back wall behind this), try to leave a minimum three foot gap between
them (more is better). This is to allow the lighting designer enough space to get the lights at
the right angles to produce the quality or light needed. As soon as the ground plan is
finished, give the lighting designer a copy.

Talk to the stage manager early on about props/set dressing. By convention, props are
anything handled by actors. These are primarily the responsibility of stage management in
consultation with the director, though you may want to provide input on the choice of props as
they form part of the overall design impact.

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Set dressing is anything on the set for decoration but not handled by actors. These are
primarily the responsibility of the set designer in conjunction with the director.

Practical Lights are chosen by the set designer and made to work by the lighting designer.

The Budget Production Meeting
A budget production meeting to consider the show‟s likely expenditure requirements must be
called about 6 weeks before the get-in. The design process should be well underway by this
point so that budget estimates can be made. This meeting should include the director,
stage manager, set designer, lighting designer, sound designer, costume designer, the
safety officer and someone from company committee (normally the Artistic Director or
the Financial Director). The director or stage manager should organise this meeting.

Your model should be ready for this meeting (and the floor plan if not done already). You will
need to provide budget estimates, fire/safety issues, etc. The safety officer must be invited to
this meeting to receive up-to-date information regarding aspects of the show with regard to
safety issues. Advance notice is required to satisfy local authority regulations relating to
theatrical licensing, even if all that is happening is the lighting of cigarettes. Early involvement
of the safety officer can avoid the possibility of having to make (possibly major) last minute

Each show has a budget which must cover the set, furniture, costumes, props, lighting etc. At
the budget production meeting your specific budget will be fixed based on your
requirements. The budget must be signed off by the committee member who attends the
production meeting. This budget should be adhered to (so get your estimates right!).

Don‟t forget that it can take up to two weeks to raise a cheque because two signatures are
required, so please request cheques for hires, etc, well in advance.

Planning your building time

In the hired venues we are using at present, there is very little time to build and dress the set.
Also most venues only allow minimal construction/touch-up painting on stage, so as much pre-
building as possible is essential, and every minute of the get-in period must be carefully

You can use the Arches at Leytonstone to pre-build – it may be a good idea to ask the Director
to include a couple of pre-build sessions into rehearsal schedule – with actors‟ help
appreciated. Don‟t forget to arrange transport to move all pre-built items and flats etc. from
the Arches to the theatre.

Organising a Building Crew

It is your responsibility to arrange for a crew to build your set, but should work closely with the
Stage Manager on this. If you cannot supervise the building of your set yourself (i.e. not
enough building experience), you should discuss with the show‟s Technical Co-Ordinator how
to find a construction manager.
The Tower has a database of technical people that can be sorted by category. Please
encourage new members and with the stage manager fill out the form on feedback of new
people so we can expand our list of reliable and competent technical crew. If you do not have
a copy of this list, a master copy should be in the Technical Manual in the office.

If you have any builders who have expressed an interest in design, please put them through
their paces and provide them with as much info/help as possible. Currently we do not have a
formal progression path in place, or any teaching/mentoring programme for set designers.
We are hoping to address this in the future, but it will always come down to the time and input
that the experienced can give to the less experienced. If you work with someone you feel is
ready to design on his or her own, please let the Technical Group know.

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The Designer is in charge of the get-in. The cast and full stage management team should be
in to help with the set, unless you, the designer tell the stage manager that the cast is not
needed for the get-in. Do not let anyone over-rule you on this. If necessary, gently remind the
director that it is Tower policy that the cast must help with their get-in, and the timing of
any rehearsal during the get-in should be with the approval of both Set Designer and
Stage Manager only. If you arrange for enough additional builders, the cast can have a
rehearsal and this will keep everyone happier. Remember that even if the cast are all
present, they may not all be DIY experts, so make sure you know people’s strengths.
This is important both to use people efficiently and to be aware of any gaps in the skill
set that will need to be filled by other builders.

Operators should also be in for the get-in but will generally be helping with lights and sound as

Organising Materials and Transport

You‟ll need to gather together materials from all the various locations where we store stuff
(see “Where to find things” below). If you require large pieces of furniture, set, etc. collected,
transportation needs to be arranged by the Stage Manager in advance of the get-in. Try
Absolute Solutions, 0800 0378314. or Prince removals on 07974 415 446 (£25 per hour, Ford
Transit) or Chris Driscoll (Props Mobile) 041 007 0305. Chris will drive his van and help with
the loading and unloading. He can also be hired for weekday pickups from hire places. Chris'
current rates are £35 for the first hour and £28 for each additional hour. He needs to be paid
in cash and will give you a receipt.

If you are having furniture delivered on a weekday, someone from your show must be
available at the venue to take delivery of the furniture when it arrives.

Other options are arranging to pick up items yourself (or get the director, stage manager or a
cast member to do it) or to have the hire place deliver (usually prohibitively expensive).
Elson’s and Steeldeck will deliver (at a price), but someone should be there to take

Remember to arrange for return of ALL hired or borrowed items.


The keys to the main Bridewell store (City Lit) are in the Tower office in St Brides.
Contact Keith Syrett, 020 8518 8356 about access to the Arches

Getting Into the Theatre

1. For venues that we are using regularly, there are specific notes available relating to that
   particular site. The notes below are more general, and should apply to any venue we are
2. It is essential to have worked out in advance, with your stage manager, lighting designer
   and director, a schedule for the get-in and tech rehearsals.
3. Often lighting designers like to come in before the set designer on the get-in so as to be
   able to rig the onstage lights whilst the stage area is free. After that you should be in
   charge of the stage, and the cast, crew and assorted helpers should be available.
4. Send some of the cast to collect the furniture. If feasible send the Director (if they have
   been involved in choosing the furniture) so that you and the Stage Manager can be
   organising other things. If the Director cannot go, send the Stage Manager. (When on
   your reconnaissance it is a good idea to prominently label all pieces you wish to use and
   draw up a complete list.) Try not to go yourself as you will have many other things to do.

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Getting the set finished
If people will be coming in at times when you will not be there, make sure you leave detailed
notes about work they can do. The list of builders also identifies people who can come in
during the day (although note that at the Bridewell, access is only available on the first

Painting the Floor
Remember to allow time for paint to dry if you intend to paint the floor. Last thing at night is
obviously the best time for this - but make sure you won‟t be thrown out of the venue before
you‟ve finished!

The Clear-Up
Following the final dress rehearsal, all unused materials, paint, wood etc. must be removed
from the venue and returned to the correct store (see “Where to find things” below). Under no
circumstances must materials be dumped in the Tower Office.

The Strike
In advance of the strike talk with the stage manager and the venue manager to find out what
they want left on stage etc.
Usually most of the strike will happen late at night after the last performance. Remember
however that you may only be able return things during the daytime, so you'll probably need to
arrange for people to be around the following morning too. Liaise with the Stage Manager to
get enough people to help.

   Take everything apart that you built unless another show has definitely asked for it.
    No exceptions without approval of Technical Group
   Strip all nails & screws
   Take things back where they belong (see “Where to find things” below). This
    requires planning and determination! Now that we are using hired venues, we must make
    sure that anything of value to us is removed and returned to its proper home.

The cast and crew should all be present to provide the workforce. Typically the cast go
through to the bar for 30 minutes or so, then the director or SM should make sure they come
back to help. This should include the director.
The strike should be under the joint control of the set designer and stage manager. The
overall clearing up of the stage, backstage areas, & dressing rooms is the
responsibility of the stage manager. Tasks will be delegated by him/her accordingly.
The striking of the set itself should be under the control of the set designer (or
construction manager if there is one) for the purposes of safety. The lighting designer
is responsible for de-rigging the lights. The operators are responsible for leaving the
lighting/sound area as they would wish to find it.
Do not allow friends of the cast who have no experience at strikes to help. They mean well,
but can be more hazard than help.
Anything built for that show MUST be taken apart at the strike, unless it is absolutely clear
that a future show will use it. In general any furniture constructed should be taken apart.
When dismantling scenery, strip everything possible and remove all nails and screws -
reusable timber with nails etc left in is potentially dangerous, both to Tower members and
those who collect the rubbish. We do not re-use nails or screws (nails are usually bent and
screws will often have knackered heads from the way many people use electric screw drivers).
At the Bridewell, rubbish should be bagged up and left outside for collection. At other venues,
check rubbish arrangements with the venue manager.
If in doubt about any of this, ask for advice. Any of the Technical Group will be happy to advise
you on anything you are uncertain about.

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Tower Inventory

Where to find things:

        Arches & New Inn Broadway.
        Due to changing circumstance of storage places, please ask Keith Syrett about
        specific locations.
            Timber, Hardboard and MDF (cleaned of nails/screws/staples) stacked
                neatly with other similarly sized pieces of timber.
            Large (12') Flats
            Architrave and moulding.
            Vacform plastic sheeting.
            Paint and Paint Trays
            Cyc Cloths
            Flats, doors, window pieces, columns etc.
            Re-usable bits of ironmongery
            Tools
            Stocks of timber
            Ladders
            Long lengths of scaffolding
            Furniture

        The Bridewell Theatre
            Steel Rostra are stored at the rear of the theatre.
            There is a small store reached by a trapdoor at the rear of the stage. Down
               there are stored stage braces, stage weights, scaffold clamps and some
               other miscellaneous hardware

        The City Lit store
            Props.
            Carpets, Blacks, Gauzes and Drapes

        Bridewell store under the Dressing Room
             Stage lanterns, gels and cable
             Short lengths of scaffolding
             Rope, sash cord, chain


The Tower now has a tool box containing at least:
        1 Black & Decker jigsaw (with spare blades)
        1 claw hammer
        1 rubber mallet
        1 adjustable spanner
        1 junior hacksaw
        1 staple gun (with staples)
        1 electric cordless drill set (with recharger & all the bits!)
        2 blue C clamps
        1 spirit level
        1 chisel (12mm)
        1 chisel (19mm)
        1 chisel (25mm)
        1 retractable knife
        1 tape measure (5m)
        2 tape measures (3m)
        1 needle nose pliers

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         1 wire cutter
         2 standard pliers
         1 Surform planer
         1 wrecking bar
         2 Philips screw drivers (size various)
         4 flathead screw drivers (size various)
         1 hand saw (22”)

There may be more than this available as we seem to have inherited various tools over the
years. Please bring any tools you can and remind the cast to bring hammers and screw
drivers, especially electric ones.


8' high, are stored at Arches.

4 feet (double sided)   x6
4 feet (thin)   x2
3 feet           x4
2 feet          x6
1 foot          x8
Ask Keith Syrett about other flats.

The Bridewell also has some of their own 8' flats which can be used :

{Detailed list to follow}

Please do not put Copydexed clouds or any other adhesive texturing on these flats.

Bracing flats:
Flats can be braced with French braces (standard stage braces) with weights until they are
more solidly anchored. To anchor flats, at the bottom, at each end on flats larger than 1‟ put
square brackets screwed into the flat and the stage floor. At the top use 2” x 1” timber to
brace the flats to the back or side walls of the theatre, (with nails not screws so they are easy
to get out on the strike). If you are not sure how to do this, make sure to get in some builders
who can.


We own the following rostra (other sizes must be hired, see listing for Steeldeck in the
suppliers section) :

5 4’ x 4’ rostra.

Steel frame is 6 “ high, the wooden platform is 1”. When placed on legs the height of the
rostra is 1” higher than the length of the legs.

For example: 7” legs + rostra = platform height 7„ 1”, headroom underneath platform 6‟ 6”. If
the fire line goes underneath the rostra, the minimum head clearance under the platforms
must be 6‟ 6”.

2 Trapezoidal rostra:                              57”

                                 21”                           48”

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The second is the mirror image of the first.

Legs for Rostra

We have selection of different length legs which are stored by Keith Syrett – check with him
before hiring. The maximum height we have is 53”.


We have wheels for trucks.


We have some staircase pieces available. Keith Syrett knows more than most about what we


We have a canvas cyclorama (about 15‟ x 30‟). It is slightly off-white, has ties at the top, a
pocket at the bottom for a chain or a scaff pole (a scaff pole is preferable as it allows the cyc
to be pulled more rigid). There are eyelets down the side to pull it taught. It is in the City Lit


We have quite a number of gauzes available. Including a very large (60‟ x 30‟) offcut that
should be sent to MacDougall‟s to be cut and prepared with ties, etc, as it is currently too large
to use (it was given to us as an end-of-roll deal or something like that). Be aware that some
one may have got there before you and this may no longer be this large. However, you should
not just cut pieces off this. If you wish to use the offcut, please discuss this with a member of
the Technical Group so we can get it properly cut so that it will be available for future use.

Gauzes live in bags on the shelves in the City Lit upstairs store. Please check stock before
purchasing new gauze.

Roller Drops

There are a number of cloths with ½ round or round bottom poles stored on the school roof.
These can be rigged on lighting bars and the curtain can be „dropped‟ or rolled back up with a
rope without dropping the lighting bar.


Dinah Irvine knows (roughly) what stock we have. These are in the City Lit store. Most
venues will also have their own blacks. Please do not get paint on the blacks.

Set Hardware

Door handles, brackets, wheels, etc should be stored in boxes on the shelf at Arches.

Set Dressing

What is set dressing and what are props?

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By convention, props are anything handled by actors. These are primarily the responsibility of
stage management in consultation with the director.

Set dressing is anything on the set for decoration but not handled by actors. These are
primarily the responsibility of the set designer in conjunction with the director.

Practical electrics are any lamps, fire effects, etc. that must work. These are chosen by the
set designer and made to work by the lighting designer. (see below)

Curtains, Cushions & Bedspreads

Check with Dinah about what you need before you buy or hire any of these items.


Rugs are in the City Lit upstairs store. Please check there first to see if we have something
that will do for your set before you think about hiring.

Other Set Dressing

Check in the props store or with the Props Manager.

A note about borrowing furniture, props, dressing etc: All too often things borrowed do
not go back in the same state that they arrived in, so exercise caution, both with borrowing in
the first place and handling borrowed goods. Do not borrow anything valuable…

Stage Electrics

Practical lamps that we own are stored in props, along with those that will be just dressing.
Please work with the lighting designer regarding these.



The Tower uses the imperial scale (feet and inches) because our flats are built to that. Our
supplier, Elson‟s Timber Yard (see Suppliers Section) will actually cut to the closest metric
equivalent. Be aware that this may occasionally cause problems. If you need an exact length,
specify it as a minimum length so it doesn‟t come in short, i.e. minimum 12‟ length, so you
don‟t end up with a slightly shorter metric approximation.
19 mm ~ 3/4” 12 mm~1/2” 6 mm~1/4”.
Obviously, check whether we have material in stock before placing an order with
Elson’s for wood.
The timber we get is class 5, carcassing timber, which is cheap but lower quality. If you have
a good reason for higher quality, you will need joinery quality, but this is quite a bit more
expensive. If you are concerned about the details of the wood (i.e want non-warped wood,
etc) you can go down to Elson‟s and pick out the exact pieces you want. For most sets, just
placing the order by phone is fine. [Elson‟s will take an order over the phone provided you
have an order number (from the Tower Office) and a show reference (the name of the show).]

Mouldings Some complex mouldings (architrave, picture rails) come in hardwood only, and
therefore will come in 8‟ lengths . Other less complex architraves, etc. may come in
softwoods and may not be limited to the 8‟ lengths.

Hardboard Used for flat units, non load bearing structures, etc. Hardboard can be used to
form wide curves, such as arches over doorways without breaking.

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Unless it is to be used on the floor, this must be Class I vesta-seal. Elson‟s should know that
this is what you want, for a theatre, but they have been known to get it wrong so it‟s best to
specify that you want Class I when ordering. Comes in the metric equivalent of 4‟ x 8‟ .

Plywood Typically use thin plywood for curved surfaces such as pillars, anything where a
tight curve is needed and hardboard would break. It is more expensive than hardboard, so
only use it when necessary. (Arches and any wide curves can usually be made from
hardboard.) Plywood will probably need to be fireproofed.

MDF Medium density fibreboard. Very heavy and rigid. Comes in thicknesses of ¼ “ and
greater. If is 19mm, it is Class I; thinner sizes will need to be proofed. Thick sheets are
extremely heavy and should be avoided. Use for nice pieces of furniture, as it cuts well into
shapes with good quality edges, unlike blockboard. Working with MDF generates
potentially harmful dust. It should therefore never be cut on stage, but only out-of-
doors or in a proper workshop. Always wear a face mask with a dust filter when
sawing MDF.

Blockboard Sturdy 19 mm thick (therefore Class I) , comes in 4‟ x 8‟ sheets. Used for
structural features and trucks. Very heavy and expensive. Only use in exceptional

Shuttering Board Very rough, cheap 1” thick, heavy. If available, can be used for truck
bases. It is used to fence in building sites.

Particle Board We generally don‟t use particle board.

As with most things, please check our supplies before ordering. There is usually a
substantial amount of black & white paint available, and sometimes other things such
as glaze. Paints, varnishes, etc are stored in Hardy‟s.

We use McPherson‟s pre-mixed paints from Elsons (Fairbridge Road branch). There should
be a colour chart in the set designers book in the office (please do not remove the paint
chart!). The advantage of this stuff is ii comes pre-mixed in a large range of colours and
Elson‟s will deliver it with any wood.

The paint we use is Vinyl Matt. This is PVA based, the brushes and rollers wash up with
water. (Please do so…)

Glaze & Varnish

For floors and furniture :

WATER BASED:              Emulsion Glaze (also PVA based, in fact Emulsion glaze + pigment
                          = paint)) . This is what we use as standard glaze, but it is not
                          waterproof. (Elson‟s & Brodie‟s)
                          If a large amount of water is thrown about the stage, the glaze will
                          soften (as will any PVA based paint) Brushes wash up with water.

                          Acrylic Varnish: Expensive. Waterproof. . Use if the floor will get
                          wet often. Can add pigment, but cannot mix PVA paints with Acrylic
                          varnish. You can put acrylic varnish on top of dry emulsion paint.
                          Scuffed Acrylic Varnish floors can be retouched overnight using Klear,
                          available at Tesco‟s, etc. (i.e if scuff marks from dancing need to be
                          touched up each night)

METHS BASED:              Shellac/ FEV (French Enamel Varnish) Water-resistant, but stains if
                          wet (as does French Polish) Comes in colours, browns, black, etc.
                          as well as bright colours

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                           Paint brushes must be cleaned in meths.


If possible, try to find an option for windows that does not involve clear plastic and the Class I
stuff is very expensive. (Other options : leave it open, cover it with a layer of scenic gauze,
disguise with curtains, etc.) If you must use clear plastic these are the options:

Coralux:         Class I. Comes in flat or corrugated varieties. Get from HomeBase. Good
                 for Stained-glass, it takes brightly coloured FEV well.

                 There is a similar product at B & Q and Wickes that has been used by the
                 Tower in the past but is not Class I. If you MUST use it, seal the trailing edges
                 in to the set

Perspex:         is NOT Class I This has been used by the Tower in the past but it will not
                 pass a fire inspection. (Again, if you must use it, seal the trailing edges in)

Darvik:          Class I, very expensive. Avoid if possible for financial reasons.


Vacuum form plastics are Class I plastic made into various shapes and textures: sheets of
bricks, lumpy walls, whole fireplaces, radiators etc. Available from Sydney Chambers or Peter
Evans (see suppliers). This stuff is not cheap, but you cannot put texture on the flats any
other way, as obviously the texturing must be easily removable. This sort of plastic is
preferable to polystyrene which is not fireproof. We have some "rough wall” vac-form and
a little bit of brick vac-form in store at Hardy’s. (Please try to avoid using polystyrene. If
you must use it see the noted regarding fireproofing.)


If you wish to use a gauze, please discuss this early on with the lighting designer, and if your
lighting designer has no experience in lighting gauzes, it might be a good idea to ask advice
from one who does.
Gauzes come in three types:
          Scenic Gauze :           Open weave, good for windows or in front of a cyc to soften
                                   the harsh light that will reflect off the cyc.
          Sharkstooth Gauze :      Denser weave, used for reveals. When lit steeply from the
                                   front, the gauze will be opaque, when lit from behind, it is
          Square Gauze :           We don‟t have much call for this.

Gauzes come in white, grey or black. They can be painted, stained, varnished, using thinned
paint. Check the gauzes for fireproofing as gauzes do not hold their fireproofing indefinitely.
They are classified as NDF (Non-Durably Fireproof), and may need to be periodically
reproofed. See the fireproofing section below.


Nails & Screws
Nails and screws should be stored in boxes on the shelf in Hardy's. Buy in what you need if
we do not have stock. (Both should be ordered from Elson‟s with the wood). We do not re-
use screws because the pozidriv screwdrivers in the hands of most people at the Tower

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knacker the screws. Nails usually come out to bent to reuse so we don‟t save those either. (So
don’t waste people’s time salvaging them or bent nails at the strike.)

Paint Brushes & Rollers
Rollers & trays can be ordered in from Elson‟s with the wood and paint. (Check the stock in
Hardy‟s and if necessary order 2 or 3 new ones) Brushes must be washed up after use as
should rollers that are new or nearly new. It is not hard to leave a bucket of water on the stage
for people to put brushes/rollers in when they have finished so that they are not left to dry out.
One person can be allocated to clean brushes and rollers at the end of the day. Please do not
leave them uncleaned. Rollers that are passed their useful life can be binned, as can trays of
crusted paint.

Masking tape should be bought from Elson‟s (1” & 2” rolls).
Gaffer tape and LX tape can be obtained from Gradav. This is generally done by the lighting

Set Hardware

Door Handles & Plates, Brackets, Screw Eyes if needed can be obtained from DIY shops,
ironmongers, etc. Please check the current stock first. Hardware is stored at Hardy's.

Placing Orders
To place an order with a supplier that we have an account with you will need to get a purchase
order form/number from the Tower Office. The order number is in the upper right corner of the
form. Some suppliers will take a phone order with the number, others may want the form itself.
Elson‟s (Wood & Paint) will take a phone order with number and show name. Before placing
an order, check the stocks we have at Hardy's etc. to see if we have sufficient material for
your needs, so that we are not spending money unnecessarily. If you need to purchase things
yourself (i.e. not on account) keep all receipts and give them promptly to the Stage Manager
who is responsible for the show budget and for ensuring that all out of pocket expenses are
refunded. If you must spend a large amount of money, check with the SM whether it should
go through her/him or whether it should go to the office direct. If necessary, the Stage
Manager is given a „float‟ to cover costs on the show not put on account. Once that is used,
most SMs will refer you to the office rather than reimbursing you out of their own money, or
else you will need to wait until they have been reimbursed themselves. Make sure you keep
the receipts if you wished to be reimbursed.

Sometimes you will need to get a cheque from the office to pay for something up front.
Because each cheque requires two signatures, it can take a week or so to arrange.
Make sure you request the cheque in plenty of time.

This is an arbitrary and probably incomplete list of suppliers that we have used. You may
know of others. We have accounts with those marked with an *. There may be info in the set
designer‟s binder about other potential suppliers. If you use others, please let Technical
Management know the details of the company.

*Elson’s Timber Yard                                              WOOD, PAINT, ROLLERS,
                                                                     NAILS, SCREWS, Etc
Fairbridge Road (David)                       020 7263 6994
Shop (Steve or Geoff)                         020 7226 6421

Brodie & Middleton Ltd                        020 7836 3289                      VARNISHES
68 Drury Lane

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London WC2

*MacDougall’s                               020 8534 2921            CLOTH, DRAPES
4 McGrath Road
London E15 4JP

Sidney Chambers                                                           VAC-FORM
415 Sipson Road
West Drayton
Middlesex UB7 0HY

Peter Evans                                 01582 725730                  VAC-FORM
1 Frederick Street
Beds. LU2 7QW

VaxPlan                                     01932 562611
Shepperton Studios

Russell & Chapple                           020 7836 7521      THEATRICAL FABRICS
Monmouth Street

Ploton’s                                    020 8348 2838             ART SUPPLIES
271a Archway Road

Tiranti’s                                   020 7636 8565              HOBBY SHOP
27 Warren Street
London W1P 5DG

Donmar                                      020 7790 1166     THEATRICAL SUPPLIES
54 Cavell Street
London E1

Beatties                                    020 7405 6285              HOBBY SHOP
202 High Holborn WC1

Hire Places

Structural, Lighting

*Steeldeck                                  020 7833 2031             ROSTRA, LEGS
Eastern Transit Building
Kings Cross Freight Depot
York Way, N1
Will make up specials (at a price!)

*Gradav                                     (FAX : 020 8803 5060)   LIGHTING, SOUND
                                            020 8803 7400              HIRE & SALES

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STV (Studio and Television Hire)              020 8749 3445
3 Ariel Way, Wood Lane W12 (White City)

Phoenix Hire                                  020 8961 6161
55 Chase Road NW10 (Park Royal)

A & M Hire                               020 8233 1500
The Royals, Victoria Road, NW10 (Park Royal)

Superhire                                     020 8965 9909
Elizabeth Arden Building,
Victoria Road, NW10 (Park Royal)

National Theatre Hire                         020 7820 1358
1 Brixton Way, SW9 (Kennington)
(if they don‟t answer you can try the costume hire dept which is in the same complex)
                                              020 7587 0404
N.B. The National Theatre requires a £200 deposit and the hire fees up front, before
they will release the furniture (their hire prices are actually very good, so we use them
despite this inconvenience). Remember to request a cheque well in advance.

Props/Set Dressing

As above

Period Props & Lighting                       020 8992 6901
21 Stirling Road W3 (Acton)

National Theatre Hire
As above


National Theatre Armoury                      020 7452 3333 (main number)
South Bank

Kensal Green (Money required up front)

Fire & Safety Regulations
Please address any questions regarding safety issues directly to the Fire & Safety Officer, in
plenty of time for the resolution of problems or obtaining licenses for particular aspects of the
set that may need it. Please make sure you understand all the safety issues before
making decisions regarding your set construction. Some of the requirements regarding
flame-proofing and materials‟ standards are covered in more practical detail in later sections
of these notes. There is also a set of Fire & Safety notes and references on Flambar, the
solutions we use to fireproof various materials, in the Technical Manual.

A Pre-Show Safety Report will need to be filled out, usually by the Stage Manager in the
budget production meeting with the director, set and lighting designer early in the rehearsal
process. If pyrotechnics, explosives, weapons, or live flame will be used on stage, the

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Pyrotechnics form should it be filled out for your show. Again, this will be the Stage Manager‟s

There are hard hats available. Please remind people organising set builds/strikes that
these are available and encourage the use of them.

Strobe Lights and Pyrotechnics
If you use strobe lights a notice must be posted in the foyer informing the audience. (A
standard notice is available for this purpose.)

If pyrotechnics are to be used, a Pyrotechnics/Explosives form must also be filled out. Again,
this will be the Stage Manager‟s responsibility.

Any naked flame onstage (even lighting cigarettes) requires approval from the council, so the
safety officer must be informed early enough to obtain permission.

Weapons Regulations
The use of weaponry on stage is another safety issue. We have some guns and gravity
knives for use as props/dressing & are kept in the office safe. Some of the guns will fire
blanks. Other weaponry can be hired. If you are using weapons, the both the Tower‟s safety
officer and the theatre Manager must be informed. Weapons must be locked up every night.
The use of weapons is, understandably, subject to very tight control and regulation. Any show
requiring the use of a large gun (i.e. rifle or musket) will pose a particular problem with respect
to safe storage and suitable arrangements must be agreed with the safety officer. Another
issue is that the Tower does not own any such large guns and suitable transportation
arrangements for collection and return to the hires will need to be considered in conjunction
with the safety officer.

Flick knives cannot be used under any circumstances, no matter how vital to the plot as
they are illegal. Gravity knives can be used instead, but they themselves can be dangerous if
appropriate precautions are not taken.


Flamebar Solutions
Materials used in the theatre must be fire-retardant (“fireproof”) to Class I. To be considered
Class I, the materials must not continue to burn on their own if the source of flame is removed
within 10 seconds.
Flamebar solutions are used to treat wood, plastics, fabric, etc to make things that are not
inherently fire-retardant sufficiently so to pass the fire retardant test. These solutions are
somewhat caustic to sensitive skin, so certain items such as clothing and bed linen that will be
“slept” in are exempt from this treatment. We use the solutions rather than the crystalline form
because they are less irritating to the skin. Flamebar solutions are obtained by the gallon (any
less is uneconomical) from Brodie‟s or Gradav. Gradav also has other types of flameproofing
agents. Make up solutions according to the directions. Stocks are kept on the school roof. If
you order in any, please label the container with an indelible marker, as the labels fall off over
time (N5, S3, etc is sufficient labelling). There are technical notes regarding Flamebar
available in the office if you need more details than are provided here. If you have any other
questions, please address them to the Fire & Safety Officer.

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Does something have to be fireproofed?

 If you know it is Class I, no you don‟t need to worry about it.
 Ten second test If you are not sure, hold a flame to it for 10 seconds. If it continues to
  burn once you take the source flame away, it must be fire-proofed in some way.
 Hardboard that will be used on the floor only does not have to be Class I, so use the
  cheaper stuff.
 Timber that is 19mm (~3/4”) or thicker does not need to be treated. All the timber we
  routinely use is at least 19 mm. If you use something unusual, you may need to check it.

There are detailed notes in the office describing the Flamebar Fireproofing solutions that we
use. Please refer to them for specifics of what materials need what treatment and how that
treatment should be prepared and applied (see section on “Theatrical & Studio Use”).

The Flamebar solutions that we routinely use are listed below:

N5 used for hardboard, softwoods & plywood, acrylic fabrics.

S3 used for fabrics (costumes and bedsheets that people will lie in do not need to be treated
because of the effect these agents may have on sensitive skin). Fabrics can be dipped then
allowed to dry, or they can be sprayed (till soaked). Check the fabric with the match test first,
and if it must be treated, check it again afterwards.

PE6 used infrequently as needed for polyester, nylon, polyurethane foam.

S1WA2 used infrequently for gauze, muslin, paper, cardboard.

Fireproofing polystyrene.

1. Try not to use it
2. If you must, it must be encased in a fireproof „sandwich‟ :

   Put on a fireproof backing (Vestaseal hardboard for example)
   Cover the front surface with a plaster bandage: mod-roc, the sort of stuff used when
    making masks, etc, available from Beattie‟s Hobby shop on High Holborn or Tiranti‟s, a
    sculpture supply place on Fitzroy Street.

Fireproof Paint

This maybe required for set pieces made of delicate woods (less than 19 mm is not Class I)
for instance trellises or anything made of less than 1” x 1” should be treated with flamebar or
painted with fireproof paint, vinyl matt Class I. This is available from Bollom‟s on Theobald‟s
Road, available in colours. It is considerably more expensive than ordinary paint. Check for
any that we may already have. The tins have red diamonds on them.

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