Fly crew

Last updated

A fly crew is a group of people who are in charge of maintaining and operating the fly system during theatre production. A member of a fly crew is also called a flyman. Despite the name, there is no gender restriction in order to work within a fly crew. [1]


Working as a member of the fly crew often requires being able to pay close attention and having physical strength and agility. During the performance, operators of the fly system will often be involved with changing the scenery or other stage effects on stage. Members of the fly crew may spend a lot of time waiting for predefined cues for operating the fly system: as a result, it is very important for the fly crew to pay close attention to signals given. During tech rehearsals, the fly crew is in charge of inspecting the fly system, [2] maintaining the weight balance, and installing the scenery, lighting and other equipment needed for the show.

A UB student operating the fly system Fly system operator.jpg
A UB student operating the fly system

To maintain the balance of the fly system, the fly crew needs to climb up to the loading gallery on top of the stage. Therefore, loaders, members of the fly crew who are in charge of loading and unloading the weight, must be able to work high above the ground. [1] The entire fly crew is usually supervised by the head flyman during the production of the show. [3]

Language and verbal cues

Whistling backstage is considered a dangerous action. Before the implication of tele-communication for theatre production, the fly crew used to use whistling as a verbal cue for operating the fly system. As a result, whistling backstage could interfere with the operations and cause an accident on stage. [4] It is for the same reason that in modern day theatre, the use of the word "go" is not allowed backstage because it has the chance to trigger certain cues on stage, such as lighting and scenery movement.

In order to operate the fly system safely, the fly crew needs to mention the number of the batten (pipe) that is going down or up. For example: "Pipe number 3, coming in. Heads up!" [5]


Working with fly system can be a really challenging and dangerous task due to the large amount of weight and great heights involved. A run-away line, for example, might injure the operator or others in the way of the moving equipment, and a counterweight dropped from the grid could kill or injure a person standing below. Therefore, to ensure the safety of the workers and the performers on stage, certain safety guidelines have been implemented to the fly crew during the operation. Here are some general safety rules that can reduce the amount of accidents happen while working with fly system.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stage management</span> Theatre or event coordination and organization

Stage management is a broad field that is generally defined as the practice of organization and coordination of an event or theatrical production. Stage management may encompass a variety of activities including overseeing of the rehearsal process and coordinating communications among various production teams and personnel. Stage management requires a general understanding of all aspects of production and provides complete organization to ensure the process runs smoothly and efficiently.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lighting design</span> Person responsible for lighting on a stage

In theatre, a lighting designer works with the director, choreographer, set designer, costume designer, and sound designer to create the lighting, atmosphere, and time of day for the production in response to the text while keeping in mind issues of visibility, safety, and cost. The LD also works closely with the stage manager or show control programming, if show control systems are used in that production. Outside stage lighting, the job of a lighting designer can be much more diverse, and they can be found working on rock and pop tours, corporate launches, art installations, or lighting effects at sporting events.

Theatrical superstitions are superstitions particular to actors or the theatre.

An electrical lighting technician, or simply lighting technician, are involved with rigging stage and location sets and controlling artificial, electric lights for art and entertainment venues or in video, television, or film production.

Running crew, run crew or stage crew, is a collective term used in the theatre to describe the members of the technical crew who supervise and operate ("run") the various technical aspects of the production during a performance. While the "technical crew" includes all persons other than performers involved with the production, such as those who build and take down the sets and place the lighting, the term "running crew" is generally limited to those who work during an actual performance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stage (theatre)</span> Designated space for the performance of productions

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 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.

Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fly system</span> System of rope lines, blocks, counterweights and related devices within a theater

A fly system, or theatrical rigging system, is a system of ropes, blocks (pulleys), counterweights and related devices within a theater that enables a stage crew to fly (hoist) quickly, quietly and safely components such as curtains, lights, scenery, stage effects and, sometimes, people. Systems are typically designed to fly components between clear view of the audience and out of view, into the large opening, known as the fly loft, above the stage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stagehand</span>

A stagehand is a person who works backstage or behind the scenes in theatres, film, television, or location performance. Their work include setting up the scenery, lights, sound, props, rigging, and special effects for a production.

The technical rehearsal or tech rehearsal is a rehearsal that focuses on the technological aspects of the performance, in theatrical, musical, and filmed entertainment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Theater drapes and stage curtains</span> Large piece of cloth designed to mask backstage areas of a theater from spectators

Theater drapes and stage curtains are large pieces of cloth that are designed to mask backstage areas of a theater from spectators. They are designed for a variety of specific purposes, moving in different ways and constructed from various fabrics. Many are made from black or other darkly colored, light-absorbing material. Theater drapes represent a portion of any production's soft goods, a category comprising any non-wardrobe, cloth-based element of the stage or scenery. Theater curtains are often pocketed at the bottom to hold weighty chain or to accept pipes to remove their fullness and stretch them tight.

A theatrical technician, also known as a theatrical tech, theatre technician, or theatre tech is a person who operates technical equipment and systems in the performing arts and entertainment industry. In contrast to performers, this broad category contains all "unseen" theatrical personnel who practice stagecraft and are responsible for the logistic and production-related aspects of a performance including designers, operators, and supervisors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electrician (theatre)</span>

In theatre, an electrician is a person who works with the various aspects of lighting. Some of the positions among electricians include the lighting supervisor, master electrician, deck electrician, light board operator, moving light programmer, followspot operator, as well as simply electricians. This group is generally known as the "Electrics" Department or LX Department.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Batten (theater)</span>

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.

There are different types of theatres, but they all have three major parts in common. Theatres are divided into two main sections, the house and the stage; there is also a backstage area in many theatres. The house is the seating area for guests watching a performance and the stage is where the actual performance is given. The backstage area is usually restricted to people who are producing or in the performance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Front curtain</span> Stage curtain(s) at the very front of a theatrical stage

A front curtain, also known as a (front-of-)house curtain, act curtain, grand drape, main curtain or drape, proscenium curtain, or main rag is the stage curtain or curtains at the very front of a theatrical stage, separating it from the house.

A rigger is one who works on ropes, booms, lifts, hoists and the like for a stage production, film, or television show.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to stagecraft:

Rigging in entertainment can be broken down into two main subjects – theatrical rigging and arena-style rigging. All the same skills apply in both genres. The first takes place in a theatre, and typically involves the theatre's permanent fly system. The other in an arena or "exposed structure venue" such as a convention center, ballroom, warehouse etc.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jay O. Glerum</span>

Jay O. Glerum was an American theatre consultant and author, best known for his book, Stage Rigging Handbook, Jay O. Glerum was widely recognized in the technical theatre circles as the author of the Stage Rigging Handbook, referred to by many stagehands as the bible of the industry. Published by Southern Illinois University Press and continually in print since 1987, the book has been revised each decade to stay current with the rapidly changing field of technical theatre.


  1. 1 2 Holloway, John (2014). Illustrated theatre production guide (3rd ed.). Burlington: Focal Press. ISBN   978-1-317-97529-8. OCLC   881607702.
  2. Viker, Erik (2003). "COUNTERWEIGHT RIGGING SYSTEM SAFETY INSPECTIONS" (PDF). Theatre Design and Technology. 39 (3): 17–24.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Performing Arts Safety | UCOP". Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  4. Persse, Daniel (2018). Fishing for Phronesis: A Search for Tacit Knowledge in Technical Theatre Education (PDF). Dublin, Ireland: Trinity College.
  5. Holloway, John (2010), "Theatre Types", Illustrated Theatre Production Guide, Elsevier, pp. 1–8, doi:10.1016/b978-0-240-81204-5.00001-6, ISBN   978-0-240-81204-5 , retrieved 2022-03-26
  6. O., Glerum, Jay (2007). Stage Rigging Handbook, Third Edition. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN   978-0-8093-8764-9. OCLC   1303297275.


This article uses terms common in the USA. Different vocabulary may be used in other English-speaking countries.