How can I get a set piece (for theatre) to move on it's own?

I'm helping a small community theatre with their play, and I thought it would be a cool idea to have the sets move on their own.  We don't have a lot of money to do it, so I was thinking if I could get a small toy car motor or something, it could work.  Please help! I need all the ideas I can get!


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adam.seager6 years ago
I'm a theatre producer in the UK and I have to agree with everybody's comments here.
If you're working on a community theatre project, you can create moving set pieces on turntables and castors etc, but ultimately you need stagehands to move them. I've worked with automated systems before and unless you have a huge budget to invest in high end products it's not worth trying to make your own. They can go wrong and will probably go wrong, not to mention the safety aspects of home built equipment.
Regardless of budget, I will ALWAYS use stagehands. They will also save your life and the show when automated systems fail!
lemonie7 years ago

RC tank(s) perhaps, but like kiteman I favour the use of stagehands.

L
In my experience, RC is problematic for stage work unless you have a very high-end rig. The less expensive sets seem to get confused by all the stray RF from the light & sound systems. I'm with you and Kiteman.
Agreed: Stagehands.
Speaking as a professional stagehand: Stagehands. We're much more reliable than any bodged-together technical solution, and we're able to think on our feet when something goes pear-shaped.

Interesting tech theatre tidbit: The original London production of Chess had tons of moving scenery, much of which was operated by stagehands hidden inside.
Kiteman7 years ago
It depends how big and heavy they are, and how fast you want them to move.

You could have floor-level ropes attached, with hand-winches in the wings, or maybe old starter-motors running on car batteries.

Maybe borrow an electric wheel-chair and strap the scenery to it? Sit a small stage-hand in the chair, ready to drive on and off stage on cue...

Kiteman Kiteman7 years ago
Or maybe just put the scenery on castors and put helpful people inside the scenery to push...