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Curved Austrian for Chicago Shakespeare Theater

iWeiss recently fabricated and installed a curved motorized Austrian curtain for the new production of “A Flea in Her Ear” at Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater. The rigging system was custom designed and all components, including the curved truss were custom-built in our shop to accommodate the very limited overhead space, and ensure smooth and quiet operation. 

The 46’ wide by 25’ high Austrian Curtain hangs in front of the proscenium, with no floor space for the winch in the immediate vicinity. It was, therefore, installed overhead, which proved to be difficult due to several catwalks and lighting equipment obstructing the ceiling area in every direction. In a standard lift system, the lift lines are connected to a clew then to a drive line attached to the winch to lift the curtain. In this case, the 25’ of travel necessary was not available. iWeiss built a “2 to 1” clew to provide a 2’ lift for every 1’ of clew travel and thus allow us to install the winch on a side catwalk. Since the Austrian hangs from a curved truss, all equipment was modified to provide the proper angles and minimum friction for each cable. We used a custom fabricated variable speed lifting motor with a remote control and a single-line “yoyo” drum to avoid unwanted fleet angles. 
The Austrian curtain was fabricated of Super Vel, an inherently flame retardant light weight velour-like fabric that provided a rich theatrical look while allowing the curtain to take up less than 4’ when in gathered or raised position.

A Flea in her Ear will be playing from March 10th to April 23rd 2006. To find out more about the show please visit Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

For more information on this project, please contact Richard Parks.

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