Writing for Vaudeville eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 543 pages of information about Writing for Vaudeville.



The author wishes to express his thanks to Mr. Elmer F. Rogers, house-manager, and Mr. William Clark, stage-manager, respectively, of the Palace Theatre, for the careful measurements from which this diagram was drawn.

When an act is ready to begin, the stage-manager pushes a button to signal the olio up or raises it himself—­if, that drop [1] is worked from the stage—­and on the last cue he pushes another button to signal the curtain down, or lowers it himself, as the case may be.  He keeps time on the various acts and sees that the performers are ready when their turn arrives.  Under the stage-manager are the various departments to which the working of scenery and effects are entrusted.

[1] A drop is the general name for a curtain of canvas—­painted to represent some scene and stretched on a batten—­a long, thick strip of wood—­pocketed in the lower end to give the canvas the required stability. Sets of lines are tied to the upper batten on which the drop is tied and thus the drop can be raised or lowered to its place on the stage.  There are sets of lines in the rear boundaries of One, Two, Three and Four, and drops can be hung on any desired set.

1.  The Stage-Carpenter and His Flymen and Grips

As a rule the stage-manager is also the stage-carpenter.  As such he, the wizard of scenery, has charge of the men, and is able to erect a palace, construct a tenement, raise a garden or a forest, or supply you with a city street in an instant.

Up on the wall of the stage, just under a network of iron called the “gridiron”—­on which there are innumerable pulleys through which run ropes or “lines” that carry the scenery—­there is, in the older houses, a balcony called the “fly-gallery.”  Into the fly-gallery run the ends of all the lines that are attached to the counter-weighted drops and curtains; and in the gallery are the flymen who pull madly on these ropes to lift or lower the curtains and drops when the signal flashes under the finger of the stage-manager at the signal-board below.  But in the newer houses nearly all drops and scenery are worked from the stage level, and the fly-gallery—­if there is one—­is deserted.  When a “set” is to be made, the stage-carpenter takes his place in the centre of the stage and claps his hands a certain number of times to make his men understand which particular set is wanted—­if the sequence of the sets has not yet been determined and written down for the flymen to follow in definite order.  Then the flymen lower a drop to its place on the stage and the “grips” push out the “flats” that make the wall of a room or the wings that form the scenery of a forest—­or whatever the set may be.

2.  The Property-Man and His Assistants

Into the mimic room that the grips are setting comes the Property-man—­“Props,” in stage argot—­with his assistants, who place in the designated positions the furniture, bric-a-brac, pianos, and other properties, that the story enacted in this room demands.

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Writing for Vaudeville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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