Theatre platform

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In theatre, a platform (also referred to as a riser or rostrum) 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.

Scenery wagon

A scenery wagon, also known as a stage wagon, is a mobile platform that is used to support and transport movable, three-dimensional theatrical scenery on a theater stage. In most cases, the scenery is constructed on top of the wagon such that the wagon, and the scenery it supports, forms a single, integrated structure. Heavy duty casters are mounted to the underside of the platform so that the entire assembly can be quickly moved onstage or offstage, so as to facilitate rapid scenery changes during live productions. Scenery wagons are built in a wide range of sizes, ranging from less than one square foot up to the size of the playing area of the stage.

Contents

Construction

Platforms are composed of a frame, a lid, and legs.

Lids

Lids are typically made from a sheet of plywood, although oriented strand board is also sometimes used. Sometimes another layer is added on top of the plywood. Hardboard is sometimes used as an easily replaceable and sturdy cover. Homasote is sometimes used because it is quiet and more comfortable to walk on. Occasionally, a layer of muslin is added on top of these materials, as it takes paint better than other options.

Plywood manufactured wood panel made from thin sheets of wood veneer

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).

Oriented strand board engineered wood particle board

Oriented strand board (OSB), also known as flakeboard, sterling board and aspenite in British English, is a type of engineered wood similar to particle board, formed by adding adhesives and then compressing layers of wood strands (flakes) in specific orientations. It was invented by Armin Elmendorf in California in 1963. OSB may have a rough and variegated surface with the individual strips of around 2.5 cm × 15 cm, lying unevenly across each other and comes in a variety of types and thicknesses.

Hardboard type of fiberboard

Hardboard, also called high-density fiberboard (HDF), is a type of fiberboard, which is an engineered wood product.

Framing

Framing is most commonly made of nominally 2"x4" lumber or rectangular steel tubing, oriented so that its longer dimension is vertical, perpendicular to the lid. Framing is usually arranged to be at or near every edge of the lid. In addition, intermediate members (sometimes called toggles) are added. Common rules of thumb dictate that the lid should not overhang the framing by more than three inches, and that internal framing should be two feet or less apart.

Lumber wood that has been processed into beams and planks

Lumber or timber is a type of wood that has been processed into beams and planks, a stage in the process of wood production. Lumber is mainly used for structural purposes but has many other uses as well.

Legs

Wooden framed platforms usually use 2x4 legs, which rest just inside of the framing, under the lid, with a cleat which supports the framing. Steel framed platforms are often built with brackets to affix legs made of steel pipe. When large numbers of platforms are being used together, a stud wall is assembled to support seams between platforms, instead of using legs at all.

Other

Often, platforms that are kept in stock have coffin locks inset in their framing or lids, in order to fasten them to adjacent platforms. The legs or stud walls that support the platform typically require diagonal cross bracing, often made of very thin lumber.

Coffin lock

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.

Stock usage

Many theatres maintain a 'stock' collection of platforming, which can be reused in any show. 4'x8' platforms are most common, although 6'x4' and 4'x4' are also quite common. These theatres also maintain standard sized legs, and often stair units which reach their standard height platforms.

See also


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