How much do you know about our Schnürboden – Stage Rigging?
If Backstage Rigging means nothing to you: then you are in the right place. Let's take a quick look behind the scenes together, or more precisely, above the stage in the theater hall. And let's talk about the most modern stage technology in Switzerland. The Schnürboden is a false ceiling in the theater above the stage , which is also referred to as rope floor.
A bit of History: The old stage rigging was made of hemp ropes and as occupational safety is everything in the theater and our old stage equipment from 1981 it was simply no longer safe. It was old fashioned with the 35 battens (the "bars", where numerous floodlights, curtains or scenery hang over the stage) fastened with hemp ropes which had to be operated manually! The ropes were attached to the side wall on sledges, on which weights of 12.5kg each were placed to use as a counterweight to the suspended material. It may not sound so dramatic, however, it is technical and dangerous work and there was always a risk of incorrect calculation of the loads, rope burn injuries when pulling up or holding onto the ropes or catching the fingers between the weight blocks. This work required an enormous amount of specialist knowledge to check the weight distribution. For example, a headlamp weighing 25 kg needed two stones as a counterweight (up to 300 kg of load per batten). To make matters worse, the battens were not only used before a performance but also moved around during the performance as required by the Director and the Stage Manager.
When the renovation work was done in 2016/17 the stage technology was completely renewed which meant that behind the scenes this meant saying goodbye to dexterous hand movements and well-rehearsed teamwork. The new transformation is the Electronic Schnürboden. This area is 16m above the stage so is not visible from the audience area and the team who formerly ran the cables, were completely re-equipped and re-trained in the new stage technology. Instead of hand ropes, there are now hydraulic winches for cables, straps and steel cables with the battens extended from 35m to 46m and are now electronically controlled. It still requires a lot of technical knowledge, but it also means a huge relief for the backs of our technicians and the profession moves into the 21st Century.
An additional benefit is that the battens can be programmed beforehand and operated by our specially trained technicians which demands a lot of concentration.
New stage floor
But not only was the space above the stage changed for the better! The 25-year-old stage made of wood, on which countless dancers, musicians, actors, singers and comedians have performed, has had to be replaced. The floor had previously been sanded down so many times that at various points metal rods stood out, potentially acting as a trip hazard for performers. When the old floor was removed, a few interesting finds were brought to light, (just ask our technicians when you visit) nevertheless, there was also some sadness as these boards had many precious memories and been in use for a long time. The new stage floor consists of Eastern European pitch and black pine which meets the specialist theater requirements. The Stage has been in use now for three seasons and is proving itself as a good investment - offering the many cultural professionals and performers the necessary stable foundation.
Please take a look during your next visit to the Theater Casino Zug and imagine what the still young stage has already experienced.
New Rigging (see below): The cables have all been replaced so that they are all easily accessible.