SECOA has manufactured and installed stage equipment for the new Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, a $125 million complex with three performance spaces. The design of the new facility included stage systems with many unique features and requirements.

“This project presented several challenges because of the distinctive requirements of the Guthrie’s new facilities,” comments Steve Hagen, Chief Operating Officer at SECOA. “We had to engineer, build, and test some systems from the ground up. And then we had to get the equipment from the ground up to the 3rd and 9th stories of the new building, where the theatres are located. This was difficult because the equipment for this project was quite large.”

The stage trap systems in the proscenium and thrust theatres presented a very unique challenge. The Guthrie needs to be able to drive a fully loaded 7-ton forklift onto the trap system, even when some sections are removed. SECOA engineered a trap system consisting of 4’x4’ panels that could withstand an 8600-pound point load on a 2”x8” contact patch.

“The hardest thing to overcome was the plywood rating – there was no rating for this application,” says Hagen. “We had to have an independent test lab test a prototype to make sure that it would meet the Guthrie’s requirements- and it passed with flying colors.”

The VOM ramp in the thrust theatre presented another unique challenge. The thrust stage can be used in a number of configurations due to a system of lifts that change the height of different sections of the stage. The VOM ramp that allow actors to enter the stage from underneath the audience has to move with the varying height of the stage. SECOA designed a unique cantilever system to keep the bottom of the ramps on the floor, while the top of the ramp moves with the complex asymmetric stage.

SECOA also supplied and installed rigging linesets, (including six installed in a stairwell for front of house rigging in the thrust theatre!) curtains, a wire tension grid, and other stage equipment at the Guthrie. “This project has been about collaboration from day one,” said Hagen. “Everyone – from Frank Butler (production manager at the Guthrie) to the architectural design team to all of the contractors on this project – has been great to work with.”