Stage drapes set the scene. They define a theatre’s ethos and prepare the audience for the production at hand. But are you giving due consideration to the role they play in stage safety?
Beyond the proscenium curtains partly protecting the audience from things falling on stage, curtains also play an important function in more conventional industrial applications backstage before and during production. The stage, after all, is a terminal construction site.
While much of the construction of set elements occurs in off-stage workshops, considerable on-site assembly is still necessary. That means some serious technical work. Here are activities in which curtains, tarps, tents and partitions play significant roles in safety:
- Sound: Backstage noise isn’t just a consideration during showtime. Construction noise is a significant hazard to personnel adjacent to the technicians performing the work. While the techs can – and should – use headphones and ear plugs, bystanders moving on and off stage need protection too. Industrial sound-dampening curtains and enclosures are a must for containing and diminishing noise in those resonant spaces.
- Welding: The sound of an arc welder is considerable, but – more than that – the risk of blindness is tremendous. Other workers and passersby need to be protected with fire-retardant and tinted screens and industrial tents. These can be set up on portable frames ideally suited to the temporary requirements backstage and onstage.
- Temperature and Fire: Though significant, welding is not the only potential fire-risk backstage. Hot lights, incendiaries and chemicals all pose fire hazards. Due to this, it is critically important that any drapery in close proximity be certified as fire resistant – both to protect passing personnel and the facilities themselves.
- Paint: Aspirated, airborne chemical content poses a health risk, while the problem of over-spray is an aesthetic challenge. In the first case, hazmat curtains can effectively enclose the space, restricting the airborne spread of fumes. In the second instance, paint – particularly spray paint – has a habit of getting where you don’t want it to. Again, custom tarps can make sure you paint what you want to, and not anything else.
Planning work backstage? Call us in to consult on safety best practices.