The Flying System: Flying In The Theatre

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Flying in the Theatre
A system of ropes, pulleys and counterweights is used in a theatre in order to lift scenery, flats and sometimes people among other theatre hardware. This system is commonly known as a fly system or a rigging system. Flying people can be a dangerous act and must be carried out by a competent person with adequate training and experience.
A fly system consists of battens, lines (made of both hemp and wire), blocks, a cradle and counterweights. When flying people a harness is also required. All equipment must have a safe working load (SWL) which is “the mass or force that a piece of lifting equipment, lifting device or accessory can safely utilize to lift, suspend, or lower a mass without fear of breaking.”
Both manual and
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Kirby invented the Kirby Pendulum System which used a compound drum and allowed a performer to be raised and lowered by a single operator. Kirby Flying rose to prominence in 1904 when they were employed on a new play, in London’s West End, ‘Peter Pan’ by J.M. Barrie Kirby was tasked with creating a new, sleeker design for the harnesses that had previously been used were bulky and complicated to attach and detach from the performer. Kirby created a “revolutionary harness that not only allowed for complex movements, but could also be connected and disengaged from the flying wire within a matter of seconds” This mechanism was so believable that Barrie had to re-write the play to include the use of pixie dust to enable flight, in order to dissuade children in the audience form attempting flight…show more content…
He also worked on another production of Peter Pan in the Orpheum Theatre shortly afterwards. Foy managed almost all of Kirby Flying’s business in the United States at this time.
Dissatisfied with the limited abilities of the Kirby Pendulum System, Foy founded Flying by Foy in 1957. He invented a new system called an ‘inter-related pendulum’. This system used two separate suspension points, each one controlled by an operator. This allowed a larger range of movement both up and down stage as well as to the left and right.
However, the interrelated pendulum system required a lot of space above the stage and was impractical in smaller venues. Foy invented the floating pulley which allowed the point of suspension to be moved. Frustratingly this system left the mechanism visible to the audience and removed some of the magic and wonder from the

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