Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 23

next is minimized. Depending on the specific approach to stringing the lines, the
maximum fleet angle will be about 0.2°.
Furthermore, a multi-groove sheave on a
loft block has " V " grooves, which, at that
small fleet angle, eliminates the friction
of the wire rope against the sides of the
groove. Another benefit is that the dropping line rotates the sheave and the passing lines simply ride in the groove of a
sheave that is already turning. However,
multi-groove block sets are more expensive than single groove block sets with
idlers, and they were not the standard
offering at the time. Brannigan had to
specify them and had to ensure that they
were bid and delivered.
Brannigan made some excellent decisions about what the system should be.
And he followed through by seeing that
it happened that way. I was told that he
continued to come to the site even after
the funds to pay for the expenses were
depleted, showing his commitment to
getting the project right.
At the time of the renovation, the
board of directors was focused on the
budget, had the responsibility for discerning between essential and non-essential
spending, and did this well. The renovation of the Imperial had a false start because the first architect did not fit the
project, envisioning a world-class facility
with a budget that reflected this design.
The owner was astute enough to recognize that a lot of that money was going
into a showplace for the architect, but
that the community did not need a showplace; the community needed a regional
performing arts center. So that architect
was released, and a local architectural
firm was engaged. The first architect had
brought in Bob Brannigan as the theatre
consultant, who, having impressed the
board, was asked to stay on.
Doug Kochell of MMC Architects of
St. John was the lead architect for the
project. MCC is no longer in business,
but Kochell recently discussed the positive working relationship among the owner, architect, and consultant. Together
they strove to create the best possible
outcome for a city the size of St. John.
Kochell said, in no uncertain terms, that
they " trusted Bob (Brannigan). "
In the world of architects and consultants, legally, the consultants work
for the architect unless they are hired
by the owner directly. The architect
pays the consultant's fee. However, if the

The loft lines (with head block to the right and up) drop one line and pass the rest to the next loft block. | Photo
courtesy Rick Boychuk.

consultant's fee must come out of the architect's fee, an architect may scrimp on
the consultant. Sometimes an architect
will not even engage a consultant, but instead will reach out to the manufacturer
for specification guidance. Although not
the worse situation, it is better to have the
consultant, as an " interested third party, "
to make decisions about a rigging system. But to do so, the architect must be
able to carry the consultant fees over and
above the architectural fees, as was done
in the Imperial project.

The Unicorn's Manufacturer and
Installer

At the time of the Imperial project, J.R.
Clancy had been in business for 112
years. At the time of this project, Clancy
built single groove blocks with idlers as
well as multi-groove block sets. Market
forces are always at work and, unfortunately, when the market lowers prices,
quality often suffers. The competitive
markets demand a low price, resulting in
many installations opting for idlers. The
discerning markets demand higher quality, multi-groove headblocks.
The block sets for this installation
were specified and delivered with tapered

roller bearings. This is where the quality
of the manufacturer and its quality control comes in. A tapered roller bearing
requires a certain amount of attention
when being assembled. The bearing
must be lubricated with grease. There
can't be too much grease, nor can there
be too little. It must be properly tightened
and must be neither too tight nor too
loose. The lubrication and tightening of
the bearings happens in the factory during assembly. For the Imperial system to
be operating as it does, with such little
friction, the blocks will have been properly lubricated and tightened.
All of this is lost if the installer doesn't
pay attention to the installation. GC
Stage, which was founded by Gary Tuzo
in 1985, took extra care with this installation. Today, the company is run by his
sons, Courtenay and Justin.
What are the indications of the extra
care taken by GC Stage? A minor, but interesting detail, is that all of the nuts and
bolts used for the Imperial were grade
5, even those holding together the guide
wall. In 1993, common practice was to
use grade 2 hardware. Did Brannigan require grade 5 bolts? Or, was grade 5 the
instigation of the installer? The legend of

SPRING 2021 | THEATRE DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY

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Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

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