Wicked is Defying Gravity with Theatre Safe Australia at Brolga Theatre

Theatre Safe Australia (TSA) installed and commissioned the hire of a Performer flying system at Brolga Theatre and Convention Centre in Maryborough Queensland for the production of Wicked. The system is specifically designed by industry experts in performer flying effects at TSA, then installed on site where a Flying Director and Flying Supervisor from TSA train the venue staff how to operate the flying system during the production rehearsals and show season.

Robert Haigh, the Venue Technical Manager explains how TSA where able to provide the full flying solution to enhance the show. “We are really pleased to have flying performers in the show. With the assistance of TSA we got the best out of the system and maximised the performer flying effects. Really pleased it met our budget requirements as it’s a vital part of the production to have the performers flying.”

The system is a custom built ZFX flying track consisting of ropes, purpose-built pulleys and Mil Spec wires that lift the performer and traverse across the stage by operators pulling the ropes behind the scenes. The performers who take flight during the show, Glinda and Elphaba, are flown in different ways. Glinda, using TSA’s 3D Aerial bubble to seamlessly float across stage as well as up and down.

The other performer flyer in the production, Elphaba, is lifted using ZFX flying harness, designed for under costume with clip points discreetly exposed to enable the attachment of wires. While the TSA Flying Director was on site for the rehearsals and performer flying training, they were able to provide vital feedback, support and assistance to re-block the flying sequence to maximise the flying effects. One of the sequences was adjusted so instead of the performer being clipped into the harness centre stage which is very exposed to the audience, the performer walked behind some scenery, where a trained operator clipped the flying wires to Elphaba’s harness out of view of the audience. This maximised the flying effect so that when she walked back to centre-stage she was lifted effortlessly by the operator who was positioned off stage. This example demonstrates the advantage in having a Flying Director onsite, enabling our skilled team to pass on vital industry experience and maximise the outcome of the flying effects.

The Flying Supervisor was able to assist the flying director train the operators during the rehearsals to pass on years of operator technique to make sure the flying during the performance was perfectly seamless.

The entire system, which will be used for the season at Brolga Theatre is safety tested upon installation and commissioned by Theatre Safe Australia. This system can be hired and is fully customisable for any venue, as it can be re-designed to fit different set-ups.


Flying training 1

Theatre Safe’s Performer Flying Workshop

Theatre Safe Australia (TSA) held a specialist flying workshop at their training facility on the Gold Coast for Technicolour Theatre Company. A purpose-built flying system was constructed for the training to demonstrate the complexities of different systems both manual and automatic. The training also covered integration of the systems into productions, the safety elements to consider and most importantly the end-user operation.

The training set-up consists of a mother grid of Litec truss rigged at a height of 10 metres with a custom ZFX flying track beneath. The manual system consists of ropes, purpose built pulleys and Mil Spec wires that lift the performer up and down as instructed by a flight director and operator pulling the ropes.

During the workshop a trained TSA rigger fitted the custom-made harness to the performer, this is designed to go under costumes and is discreetly hooked to the wires which elevate the performer. The technique of connecting the performer during the performance was demonstrated to the students, for instance, when Mary Poppins takes flight there is a balloon scene prior which hides the in view performer flying system wires as they enter the stage, then the children proceed to hug Mary as the trained performer clips the wire to Mary’s harness simultaneously.

This manual operation takes some practice between the operator and performer, they have to work together so that the flying is seamless. They may often communicate with an established set of signals to help them take flight, land and other movements such as a pirouette or somersault. This is where the TSA training facility is useful to save time and expenses of rehearsing in the theatre, being able to allow performers to become accustomed to the sensation of taking flight in training environment before moving to a stage environment.

Andrew, Director of the Technicolour Theatre Company, commented on the benefits the training gave to the students, “TSA were able to pass on years of industry knowledge to our young performers. There’s certainly a lot more to flying then just being hooked up and flown around the stage. Above all the students really enjoyed the day, especially when they got to take flight!”

Another system that was demonstrated during the training was a powered system, which adds an electric winch to the track and operated by an automation system allowing for automated up and down movement. Every theatre/ venue is different, TSA design and build bespoke systems depending on desired effects and budget. For larger, more complex venues and productions a system can be utilised to automate performers and also scenery. This multi-axis control is achieved with specifically designed automation control systems and software.

TSA are among only a handful of companies in the world where equipment has been specifically designed, manufactured and engineered for the performer flying industry. The equipment is unique in that it is not modified stage, industrial or climbing equipment but custom designed products with the safety and success for use in theatrical productions in mind. This enables our effects to not only operate seamlessly but also ensure that we are following the highest international standard of safety.

Mary Poppins

Helping Mary Poppins Take Flight

TSA worked with the team at Footlight Productions in Geelong to fly Mary in Mary and Poppins at Geelong Performing Arts Centre.

Performer Flying is one of the specialist services that we can offer, we have some of the latest equipment available and its all designed and certified specifically for performer flying. Its also always important to check when using an effect provider that their insurance specifically covers them for performer flying.

Our specialist team have over 25 years of experience working on all types of production big and small from school shows to opening ceremonies, so to see how we can help your production why not give us a call.