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A flat (short for scenery flat) or coulisse is a flat piece of theatrical scenery which is painted and positioned on stage so as to give the appearance of buildings or other background.
Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, typically actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον, itself from θεάομαι.
In theatre and performing arts, the stage is a designated space for the performance of productions. The stage serves as a space for actors or performers and a focal point for the members of the audience. As an architectural feature, the stage may consist of a platform or series of platforms. In some cases, these may be temporary or adjustable but in theaters and other buildings devoted to such productions, the stage is often a permanent feature.
Flats can be soft covered (covered with cloth such as muslin) or hard covered (covered with decorative plywood such as luan). Soft-covered flats have changed little from their origin in the Italian Renaissance. Flats with a frame that places the width of the lumber parallel to the face are called "Broadway" or "stage" flats. Hard-covered flats with a frame that is perpendicular to the paint surface are referred to as "Hollywood" or "studio" flats.
Muslin, also mousseline or Malmal, is a cotton fabric of plain weave. It is made in a wide range of weights from delicate sheers to coarse sheeting. Muslins were imported into Europe from the Bengal region, specifically from the central areas of current day Bangladesh, during much of the 17th and 18th centuries and were later manufactured in Scotland and England. While English-speakers call it muslin because Europeans believed it originated in the Iraqi city of Mosul, its origins are now thought to have been farther east — in particular Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh. Dhaka’s jamdani muslin, with its distinctive patterns woven in layer by layer, was one of the Mughal Empire’s most prestigious and lucrative exports. Early muslin was handwoven of uncommonly delicate handspun yarn.
Usually flats are built in standard sizes of 8 feet (2.4 m), 10 feet (3.0 m), or 12 feet (3.7 m) tall so that walls or other scenery may easily be constructed, and so that flats may be stored and reused for subsequent productions.
Often affixed to battens flown in from the fly tower or loft for the scenes in which they are used, they may also be stored at the sides of the stage, called wings, and braced to the floor when in use for an entire performance.
In theaters, a batten is a long metal pipe suspended above the stage or audience from which lighting fixtures, theatrical scenery, and theater drapes and stage curtains may be hung. Battens that are located above a stage can usually be lowered to the stage or raised into a fly tower above the stage by a fly system.
In theater, a brace is a sliding piece of wood or metal with a 'butterfly' winged nut to make it longer or shorter to fit the flat used to stabilize a flat set piece such as a flat. The nut is used, so that it can be changed more quickly than a screw to the floor during a quick change. Usually, a brace is painted black to make it less noticeable to the audience. Braces are often used to form a triangle between two perpendicular items (like a vertical flat and a stage. They can also make a flat piece stronger by forming an X-shape between all four corners. Another way to brace a rectangular flat is to use special braces, called toggles which run at regular intervals, parallel to the short end of the flat, effectively breaking it into many smaller, stronger rectangles.
Rails (or plates) are the top and bottom framing members of a flat. Rails run the full width of the flat (4 feet or 1.2 metres, for a 4 by 8 feet or 1.2 by 2.4 metres, flat).
Stiles (or studs) are the vertical members of the frame. The length of the stiles is the full height of the flat, minus the combined width of the rails (7 feet 7 inches or 2.31 metres, for a 4 by 8 feet or 1.2 by 2.4 metres, flat constructed of 2 1⁄2-inch or 64-millimetre, rails).
Toggles are horizontal cross pieces that run between the stiles or studs. The number and placement of toggles depends on the type of flat. The length of the toggles is the total width of the flat minus the combined width of the stiles (3 feet 7 inches or 1.09 metres, for a 4 by 8 feet or 1.2 by 2.4 metres, soft-cover flat constructed of 2 1⁄2 inches or 64 millimetres, stiles).
Corner blocks are used to join the corners of a soft-cover flat. They are normally made of 1⁄4-inch (6.4 mm) plywood, and are triangles with corners of 45°, 45°, and 90°. They are most often made by ripping the plywood at 6 1⁄2 inches (170 mm) and then mitering it at 45 degree angles to create triangles with 9-inch (230 mm) legs.
Keystones join the toggles to the stiles of soft-cover flats. They are 8 inches (200 mm) long, and normally rip sawn to the same width as the toggles (usually 2 3⁄4 inches or 70 millimetres) on one end, and 3 1⁄2 inches (89 mm) on the other, forming a shape similar to the keystone of an archway.
Straps can be used in place of keystones. They are 8 inches (200 mm) long and 2 1⁄2 inches (64 mm) wide (same as toggle) rectangles. They are easier to construct than keystones, but not as strong due to their narrower dimension and reduced glue/nailing surface area.
A coffin lock or screws may be used to join securely adjacent flats, or traditionally with a lash line cleat, where cotton sash cord is lashed around cleats installed on the flat's edges. This allows for quick standing and striking of the set.
Coffin lock is a slang term for a blind panel connector often used in scenic construction to join together stage decks or scenery in a butt joint. These are two part connectors that draw together and lock. The two most common types are the cam and acceptor and more traditional hook and pin version. These devices generally use a hex key to operate the locking mechanism via a small diameter hole either through the face or rear of the panel. When locked, the considerable mechanical advantage offered by the cam or hook holds the panels tightly together. Coffin locks can be installed directly into a mortise cut into each panel for total concealment except for the locking hole or mounted to the rear of the panels. Many small theatres use stock platforms with coffin locks built into the frames.
A lashing is an arrangement of rope wire or webbing with linking device used to secure and fasten two or more items together in a somewhat rigid manner. Lashings are most commonly applied to timber poles, and are commonly associated with cargo, containerisation, the Scouting movement, and sailors.
Broadway or stage flats are generally constructed of 1-by-3-inch (25 mm × 76 mm) nominal (3⁄4 by 2 1⁄2 inches or 19 by 64 millimetres actual) pine boards. The boards are laid out flat on the shop floor, squared, and joined with the keystones and corner blocks. The keystones and corner blocks are inset 1 inch (25 mm) from the outside edge, which allows for flats to be hinged or butted together. They are then glued in place, and stapled or screwed down. The flat can then be flipped over and covered with muslin or decorative plywood. Toggles in a Broadway flat are placed on 4 ft (1.2 m) centers.
Broadway flats can also be constructed using Half-lap and Cross-lap joints instead of keystones and corner blocks, and joins stiles, rails, and toggles, by sawing a 3⁄8 inch (9.5 mm) deep half-lap at the ends of the pieces, and/or a 3⁄8 inch (9.5 mm) deep dado groove mid-piece, which are then glued and stapled together. Dados can be made using a radial arm saw or table saw, and a dado stack cutter (two outer circular saw blades and one or more "chippers" between them, giving a much wider cut). Setting up for a dado stack is approximately the same as for preparing keystones and cornerblocks, but requires less layout, as the length of stiles, rails and, toggles are equal to the face of your flat.
A lap joint or overlap joint is a joint in which the members overlap. Lap joints can be used to join wood, plastic, or metal.
A dado, housing (UK) or trench (Europe) is a slot or trench cut into the surface of a piece of machinable material, usually wood. When viewed in cross-section, a dado has three sides. A dado is cut across, or perpendicular to, the grain and is thus differentiated from a groove which is cut with, or parallel to the grain. Dados are often used to affix shelves to cabinetry carcasses. Similar to the dado, see rabbet (rebate).
A dado set or dado blade is a type of circular saw blade, usually used with a table saw or radial arm saw, which is used to cut dadoes or grooves in woodworking. There are two common kinds of dado sets, stacked dado set and wobble blade.
Hollywood or studio flats can be made in various thicknesses to suit a particular design, but are most often made of 1-by-3-inch (25 mm × 76 mm) nominal (3⁄4 by 2 1⁄2 inches, 19 mm × 64 mm actual) pine boards. The boards are laid out on edge on the shop floor, the ends are glued together and stapled or screwed. Keystones and corner blocks are not normally used. Once assembled, the flat can be covered with 1⁄4-inch (6.4 mm) or 1⁄8-inch (3.2 mm) decorative plywood, which is glued on and stapled. The toggles in a Hollywood flat are placed on 2-foot (0.61 m) centers.
Hollywood flats may receive a muslin skin over the decorative plywood face. The face is covered in a mixture of water and white glue, the muslin is applied and the entire flat is covered with the water/glue mixture again, to shrink and attach the muslin.
A 19-inch rack is a standardized frame or enclosure for mounting multiple electronic equipment modules. Each module has a front panel that is 19 inches (48.3 cm) wide. The 19 inch dimension includes the edges or "ears" that protrude from each side of the equipment, allowing the module to be fastened to the rack frame with screws. Common uses include computer servers, telecommunications equipment and networking hardware, audiovisual production and scientific equipment.
Plywood is a material manufactured from thin layers or "plies" of wood veneer that are glued together with adjacent layers having their wood grain rotated up to 90 degrees to one another. It is an engineered wood from the family of manufactured boards which includes medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and particle board (chipboard).
The millimetre or millimeter is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousandth of a metre, which is the SI base unit of length. Therefore, there are one thousand millimetres in a metre. There are ten millimetres in a centimetre.
Flooring is the general term for a permanent covering of a floor, or for the work of installing such a floor covering. Floor covering is a term to generically describe any finish material applied over a floor structure to provide a walking surface. Both terms are used interchangeably but floor covering refers more to loose-laid materials.
A stairway, staircase, stairwell, flight of stairs, or simply stairs, is a construction designed to bridge a large vertical distance by dividing it into smaller vertical distances, called steps. Stairs may be straight, round, or may consist of two or more straight pieces connected at angles.
A tape measure or measuring tape is a flexible ruler and used to measure distance.
A structural insulated panel, or structural insulating panel, (SIP), is a form of sandwich panel used in the construction industry.
A shoe size is an indication of the fitting size of a shoe for a person.
A billiard table or billiards table is a bounded table on which cue sports are played. In the modern era, all billiards tables provide a flat surface usually made of quarried slate, that is covered with cloth, and surrounded by vulcanized rubber cushions, with the whole elevated above the floor. More specific terms are used for specific sports, such as snooker table and pool table, and different-sized billiard balls are used on these table types. An obsolete term is billiard board, used in the 16th and 17th centuries.
International standard ISO 2848 is an ISO standard used by the construction industry. It is based on multiples of 300 mm and 600 mm
Frame and panel construction, also called rail and stile, is a woodworking technique often used in the making of doors, wainscoting, and other decorative features for cabinets, furniture, and homes. The basic idea is to capture a 'floating' panel within a sturdy frame, as opposed to techniques used in making a slab solid wood cabinet door or drawer front, the door is constructed of several solid wood pieces running in a vertical or horizontal direction with exposed endgrains. Usually, the panel is not glued to the frame but is left to 'float' within it so that seasonal movement of the wood comprising the panel does not distort the frame.
Kitchen cabinets are the built-in furniture installed in many kitchens for storage of food, cooking equipment, and often silverware and dishes for table service. Appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens are often integrated into kitchen cabinetry. There are many options for cabinets available at present.
In furniture-making, the upholstery frame of a piece of furniture gives the structural support and determines the basic shape of the upholstered furniture. The frame may be a basic piece of wooden furniture prior to its being upholstered. Like a finished piece of furniture prior to the upholstering, the frame establishes the final quality, including its durability, and sets limits upon the final design, padding, cushioning, or cover.
A rack unit is a unit of measure defined as 1 3⁄4 inches (44.45 mm). It is most frequently used as a measurement of the overall height of 19-inch and 23-inch rack frames, as well as the height of equipment that mounts in these frames, whereby the height of the frame or equipment is expressed as multiples of rack units. For example, a typical full-size rack cage is 42U high, while equipment is typically 1U, 2U, 3U, or 4U high.
In woodworking, veneer refers to thin slices of wood and sometimes bark, usually thinner than 3 mm, that typically are glued onto core panels to produce flat panels such as doors, tops and panels for cabinets, parquet floors and parts of furniture. They are also used in marquetry. Plywood consists of three or more layers of veneer. Normally, each is glued with its grain at right angles to adjacent layers for strength. Veneer beading is a thin layer of decorative edging placed around objects, such as jewelry boxes. Veneer is also used to replace decorative papers in Wood Veneer HPL. Veneer is also a type of manufactured board.
In materials, BS 1088 is the British Standard specification for marine plywood that applies to plywood produced with untreated tropical hardwood veneers that have a set level of resistance to fungal attack. The plies are bonded with Weather Boil Proof (WBP) glue.
This glossary of woodworking lists a number of specialized terms and concepts used in woodworking, carpentry, and related disciplines.
In theatre, a platform is a stationary, standard flat walking surface for actors to perform on. Typically, they are built to be assembled modularly. They are often used to provide varying levels, to make a show more visually interesting. They are also used to separate areas on stage, and as seating bleachers. This is in contrast to scenery wagons, which are mobile platforms that are supported by casters instead of feet.
Haskelite is the brand name of a plywood, once made by the Michigan based Haskelite Manufacturing Corporation. It was made from waterproof glue developed by Henry L. Haskell. The moldable plywood was originally called Ser-O-Ply. It was used in the construction of various vehicles including military tanks, boats, airplanes, buses, trucks, and automobiles.
Haskelite Manufacturing Corporation (1917–1956) was a conglomerate of Michigan – based companies. It was located on Broadway Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They manufactured haskelite plywood for a wide variety of applications and vehicles. Their office headquarters were located in Chicago, Illinois. The Grand Rapids corporation was a spin-off from the Haskell Manufacturing Company in Ludington, Michigan. It was a factory twice the capacity at over 100,000 square feet and designed to make up to ten times as much plywood per day as the Ludington facilities. The plywood at the beginning was needed for World War I military airplane body parts. The plywood later was used in houses, buildings, automobiles and ship construction. Different styles and types of plywood were made for particular niches. The corporation made the largest plywood ever produced, which was used in constructing a particular US Navy boat. A well known use for the Haskelite plywood produced at the Grand Rapids facilities was for the construction of the Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindberg's plane.