Other High Schools Fly System Rigging :
Over the past 4 years at Old Rochester Regional High School's drama club, we have watched our Director, Paul Sardinha, create shows and sets that continue to amaze, astound, and enthrall audiences.
Our productions have gained the attention of international master class companies and entertained citizens from other countries and audiences from all along the eastern seaboard.
For the past 4 years, we have watched the drama club representatives struggle to scrape together enough money from the students to gift Paul (director), Mrs. Blake ( costume director), and Mrs. Cardoza (F.O.R.D director) with tickets to a professional touring company's show (at roughly $50 a piece). This as a small token of appreciation from the students for all of the blood, sweat, and tears they put into these productions.
But, as last year marks Paul's 25th anniversary of working at ORR, we think it's time we gave him more than just a nice evening out.
For the past 4 years, I have watched Paul struggle to fit his vision of what our shows could be into the confines of our High School Auditorium. My freshmen year, I learned about all the changes Paul wishes he could make to our stage and auditorium, but simply cannot due to funding issues.
This year, we have decided to try and end that issue.
One of the bigger issues revolving around our high school's rigging system. Unlike other High school and college theaters, we do not have a proper "Fly -system". A fly system, or theatrical rigging system, is a system of rope lines, 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, above a stage. You typical fly system has anywhere between 20 and 40 lines that utilize professional counterweights with safety locks and (sometimes) automated levers to optimize control.
Our stage utilizes a pulley system.
Now we know what you're thinking, "Whats so bad about pulley system?" ... and usually, when required for nothing other than, a few background pieces, Nothing! But for the level of shows that our high school is thankful to perform, it does more than fall short of perfect.
During this year's production of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", Paul had envisioned our three leads flying on rigging during two of our musical numbers-- a vision which is not uncommon amongst many high school theater companies.
This vision was achievable, but not at all easy.
Because our show is student-run, flying out three teenagers on our simple pulley system, takes a team of 15 teenagers, holding on to the lines for dear life to keep our leads suspended safely (resulting in 15 very tired, and sore teenagers, thankful for their gloves).
Overall, this would be functional, if the human mass our student stagehands create didn't take up half our backstage space, and cause our leads to be lifted 3 feet at a time.
Overall, this system is dysfunctional, and problems like this hinder the creativity of someone as amazing as Paul.
We know a brand new- 40 line fly system is a lot to ask for. Heck, at $6,000 per line plus the other rigging requirements, I'm pretty sure the school board would laugh at our faces for asking for such a figure.
That is where YOU come in.
All we want are the funds to review, revise, and renew our existing system. The $25,000 were asking for is a ballpark figure that would definitely help us ensure that our rigging system is keeping our students and stage safe, without costing our tech crew too much, and hindering Paul's creative process.
An improved system would optimize safety, ensure the smooth elevation of students and props, make running the show easier for our techies, save enormous amounts of space for props and students backstage, and help our students learn the anatomy of a proper rigging system.
But these improvements wouldn't just aide the drama club. A project like this would also benefit our school as a whole, our "Mr. ORR" productions, the dance recitals we conduct, our high school's "theater" class-elective, our Beauty Pageants for our special needs children, any speakers who wish to utilize our stage and more.
Over the past 25 years, Paul has made due with what our school has to offer, and he has made outstanding performances and sets despite this drawback. We just want to give him, and the school, a chance to reach the fullest potential in a safe way that allows our drama club ( and the drama kids of the future!) to truly spread their wings and fly.
Thank you for your time, and we hope you decide to help us in our endeavors.
The Old Rochester Regional High School Drama Club.ORRHS Cast after our 2017 Production of "Noises Off!"
Our WONDERFUL Drama Director Paul Sardinha
- Diane Ouellette
- Patricia Carrington
- Kristi Melloni
- Monika Dube
- Corinne Armstrong
Organizer and beneficiary
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