The lifting of objects, scenery or even people above the stage.
Fly tower (‘Flies’)
Upper part of the stage, used to ‘store’ flown items out of sight of the audience.
Hemp or Manual Flying
Using ropes and pulleys to lift objects. Commonly, ropes are attached to bars, which are horizontal metal pipes running across the stage. Manual flying is limited by the weight which the operator is able to safely lift.
A manual winch with some kind of ratchett or clutch is used to wind bars in and out, usually geared so as to make it possible to fly heavy weights with the side effect that it takes a very long time to move a bar any distance. Some manual winches can have electric drills attached to them to assist the procedure.
The object being raised is counter-balanced by weights in a ‘cradle’, which allows the operator to raise or lower the object without having to lift the full weight. Counterweight flying is commonly found in most large theatres.
There are two types of counterweight systems:
- Single purchase, where the weight in the cradle is equivalent to that of the object being flown, and the cradle moves the same distance as the bar.
- Double purchase, where the weight in the cradle is double that of the object being flown, and the cradle moves half the distance of the bar.
Modern theatres often have motorised flying, allowing for safer use and more complex systems.