Dressing the Stage.
Just like people need clothes to look beautiful, so do stages.
PRG Showdrapes has launched a website showcasing the most spectacular curtains they’ve made in recent years:from the thick velvet front grand drape with a bullion fringe in a town hall, to pink swags in Dusty, to blue boile curtains in the MTC production of The Sapphires.
The stage drapery impacts the general look and feel of a show, as it impacts technical aspects such as masking, sight lines and even acoustics.
Black masking cloths, painted canvas backdrops, projection screens and special effects cloths such as gauzes and cycloramas etc are all often utilized.
The transition from planning to ’bump in’ may involve many months or even years of meticulous planning and testing.
Typically, the evolution of the stage cloth production will start with the set designer who will specify the fabrics required for the creation of the set, or indicate what ’look’ is needed.
Scale drawings and set models are produced, and meetings between the show’s technical producers and the PRG Showdrapes team determines fabrics, finishes, budget and timeframe.
For many complicated cloths, such as large swags or drapes with a mechanised action, a scaled mockup of the proposed drape (often in calico) is produced.
Test hanging by PRG at its workroom ensures that the drapes are manufactured exactly as required. Each drape is labeled, according to building code requirements, and includes information on size, date of manufacture, material composition and information on flame retardancy including test results (when applicable).
The majority of theatre drapery is produced from specialized fabrics which are not manufactured locally. PRG Showdrapes carries a huge selection of these fabrics to ensure local availability of curtains and backdrops at short notice.
The company has been awarded many prestigious contracts, including the recent refurbishment of the stage curtains in the four main theatres at the Sydney Opera House, the ‘Intimate Mode’ drapery project at Etihad Stadium and supply of velvet masking drapes for the refurbished Hamer Hall.
Images (from top): Velvet front grand drape with a bullion fringe at Eaglehawk Town Hall (1998), pink swags in Dusty (2005) Set Design: Roger Kirk and blue boile curtains in the MTC production of The Sapphires (2004). Design: Richard Roberts.