Mechanical Design for the Stage


By Alan Hendrickson

Paperback. 446 pages

SKU: 9780240806310 Category:


Scenic effects involving rotating turntables, tracking stage wagons, and the vertical movement of curtains and painted drops have become common in both Broadway and Regional theatre productions. The machines that drive these effects range from small pneumatic cylinders pushing loads of a few pounds an inch or two, to 40 horsepower winches running multi-ton scenery at speeds 6 feet per second or more. Usually this machinery is designed by theatre technicians specifically for a particular show’s effect. Compared to general industry, this design process is short, often only a few days long, it is done by one person, design teams are rare, and it is done in the absence of reference material specifically addressing the issues involved. The main goal of this book is to remedy this last situation.

Mechanical Design for the Stage will be a reference for you that will:
* provide the basic engineering formulas needed to predict the forces, torques, speeds, and power required by a given move
* give a technician a design process to follow which will direct their work from general concepts to specific detail as a design evolves, and
* show many examples of traditional stage machinery designs.

The book’s emphasis will be on following standard engineering design and construction practices, and developing machines that are functional, efficient to build, easily maintained, and safe to use.

Table of Contents

Basic Concepts: Displacement, velocity acceleration; The force to accelerate mass; The force to overcome friction; The lifting force; Emax analysis- E-stop; Power example; Basic Concepts: Angular Displacement, angular speed, angular acceleration; The torque to accelerate mass; The torque of overcome friction; The lifting torque; Tmax analysis-E-stop; Rotational Power Example; Combining Linear and Rotary Motion; Safety; Power Sources; Electric Motors ; Fluid Power Actuators; Speed Reduction; General Concepts; Gear Reducers; Chain Reduction; Belts; Shafting; Bearings and Wheels; Wire Rope & Sheaves; Cable Drums; Screw Mechanisms; Brakes; Control, from a mechanical design point of view; Frames and Framing; Freedom and Constraint; The Mechanical Design Process; Specification; Concept Design and Concept Evaluation; Detail Design; Manufacture; Cable Drum Winches; Turntable Drives; Guides, Tracks, Dogs and Knives; Lifts; Traps; Miscellaneous mechanisms: bellcranks, linkages, escapements, etc; Appendixes.


Alan Hendrickson is a Professor (Adjunct) of Technical Design and Production at Yale School of Drama, and an independent consultant in scenery mechanization and control since 1984. Classes taught at Yale include Physics of Stage Machinery, Automation Control, Pneumatics and Hydraulics, and Mechanical Design for Theatre Applications. His outside consultant work includes hydraulic, control, and mechanical design for effects running on Broadway, national tour, and regional theatre shows, mainly through Hudson Scenic Studio.

Additional information

Weight 1.0 kg