Never one to shrink from technically challenging productions, executive producer Joe Melillo has brought Gísli Örn Gardarsson's Icelandic production of Georg Büchner's tragic play, Woyzeck, to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's (BAM) Next Wave Festival, October 15 to 18. The challenges for the production team include a bungee-jumping actor who also swings from a trapeze and a tank of water running around a raised section of custom steel decks on stage with a framework of PVC pipe. Sapsis Rigging provided the truss, with Bill Sapsis and Mike Yocum on site for the installation.
As BAM's associate production manager Don Coleman points out, “The span of the truss over the audience is 72' from side to side, with supports in the side boxes and three points to the steel above.” So in effect, the building itself supports the weight of the actor's fall.
“The load applied to the rig wasn't too much of a concern, as we have a center point on the main bridge truss,” adds Sapsis. “The real issue was stability of the bungee truss. We solved that by hanging it as a goalpost with two 1-ton CM hoists and then connecting the legs to the bridge truss. The bridge truss, which is also a modified goalpost, has guy wires and is anchored to the concrete floor of the side boxes.”
Supporting the trapeze — or cloud swing — on stage is another span of truss that has operating lines running to the side galleries to make the swing move, “rather than have the actor have to do it,” notes Coleman, who adds that there is also an oval trap in the stage floor. “The eight-person chorus goes one-by-one through the trap to land on a crash mat, quickly moving out of the way for the next person.”
The water tank holds 2,000 gallons of water and has to be drained and cleaned after each performance, then refilled, using city water with an inline heater to boost the temperature for the comfort of the actors. “When you first see it, the tank is covered with Astroturf, later removed by the actors,” says Coleman. “Astroturf drying racks are part of the backstage setup.”
In a moment of humor in an otherwise rather dark drama, two bouquets are handed up through another trap, and the actors turn the flowers upside down and sing into the wireless Shure microphones hidden among the blooms' stems. Rentals to augment house gear came from See Factor (audio), plus PRG and 4Wall (lighting). Barbizon has provided an ETC Eos console, purchased as part of BAM's capital improvements this year.