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Reference Reading

To learn more about rigging, backstage safety, and other related topics, you may find the following book list helpful.

Rigging Stage & Machinery

Stage Rigging Handbook, 3rd Ed. - Jay O. Glerum,
Southern Illinois University Press, 2007
A comprehensive book covering all facets of stage rigging.

Scenery for the Theatre - Harold Burris-Meyer and Edward Cole,
Little, Brown, and Company, 1971

Good chapter on "The Stage and its Equipment."

Theatre Engineering and Stage Machinery - Toshiro Ogawa,
Entertainment Technology Press, 2001

Covers every aspect of theatrical machinery and stage technology in global terms.

Arena Rigging - Harry Donovan, Donovan Rigging, Inc., 2002
A comprehensive, practical guide covering all aspects of arena rigging.

Theatre Design

Building Better Theaters - Michael Mell, Entertainment Technology Press, 2006
Step-by-step guide to the design and construction of performing arts facilities.

Theatres, Planning Guidance for Design and Adaptation - Roderick Ham,
Butterworth Architecture, 1987

A good overview of the entire process of designing a theatre.

Theatres and Auditoriums, 2nd Ed. - Harold Burris-Meyer and Edward Cole,
Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co., Inc., 1964

Planning, architecture and construction of theatres, opera houses and
multi-use facilities.

Rope & Cable

Wire Rope Users Manual, 4th Ed. - Wire Rope Technical Board, 2005
Comprehensive information on wire rope usage.

Wire Rope User’s Handbook, 2012

The Ashley Book of Knots - Clifford W. Ashley, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1944
A historical archive of over 3,000 knots from the days of sailing ships.


Backstage Handbook, 3rd. Ed. - Paul Carter, Broadway Press, 1994
An illustrated reference of technical information from a theatrical perspective.

Structural Design for the Stage - Alys E. Holden & Bronislaw J. Sammler,
Focal Press, 1999

Provides a foundation in practical structural design for scenery.

Pocket Ref, 2nd Ed. - Thomas J. Glover, Sequoia Publishing, Inc., 1995
A wide ranging reference with tables, charts, and formulas related to carpentry, chemistry, physics, electricity, steel, hardware, finishes, and much more.

Electrical Pal - Paul A. Rosenberg, Engineering Publications Group EPG, Inc., 1996
A basic pocket-size reference for electrical work, including electrical formulas, symbols, wiring, communications, fiber optics, motors, lighting, and more.

Working Backstage

Scenic Design and Lighting Techniques: A Basic Guide for Theatre
Rob Napoli and Chuck Gloman, Focal Press, 2006
Basic scenic and lighting information with many color illustrations and photos.

The Perfect Stage Crew: The Complete Technical Guide for High School, College, and Community Theater John Kaluta, Allworth Press, 2003
How to make things happen backstage that are essential for a successful production.

HEADS! & Tales - Bill Sapsis,,
A compilation of articles and stories featuring safety information, practical advice, humor and gems of wisdom for the stage technician.

Business Books

ANSI E1.2-2006: Design, Manufacture and Use of Aluminum Trusses and Towers

Entertainment Services & Technology Association 2006

Practical Health and Safety Guidelines for School Theatre Operations
Dr. Randall Davidson, Risk International Publishing, 2005
Extensive coverage of health and safety concerns in schools, including maintenance, fire prevention, environmental concerns, necessary skill sets for instructors.

PDF Becoming a Category of One (book review by Bob Theis)

Joe Calloway, John Wiley and Sons, 2003
Explains how ordinary businesses can become exceptional by knowing and connecting with their customers beyond all expectations.

Other Recommended Reading

Nobody Looks Up: ​the history of the counterweight rigging system, 1500-1925 Rick Boychuk (2015)

Nobody Looks Up is a magnificent and very important piece of work to our industry. The detail of your research and the conclusions you reach make quite fascinating reading. I'm overawed and feel that I've learnt a great deal. ... An illuminating experience for me.

Scenic Automation Handbook Gareth Conner (2018)

Scenic automation has earned a reputation of being complicated and cantankerous, a craft best left to the elite of our industry. Not sure of the difference between a VFD, PLC, or PID? If you have dreamed of choreographing scene changes with computerized machinery, but get lost in the technical jargon the Scenic Automation Handbook will guide you along the road to elegant automation.

The Technical Director's Toolkit Zachary Stribling & Richard Girtain (2016)

In the world of theatre, the technical director is responsible for overseeing the safe and efficient realization and implementation of scenery for the stage. The Technical Director’s Toolkit is the first book to address every nut and bolt of this multifaceted job, guiding you though the step-by-step processes of technical direction and the responsibilities of the TD in the mounting of a theatrical production. Leadership, management, relationship building, personal responsibility, and problem solving are addressed, showing you not only how to become a more efficient and effective TD, but also how to be a collaborative member of a production team that artists will seek to work with again and again. The book also addresses scene shop design, facility repair and maintenance, and finishes with a brief overview of other areas of technical theatre that help round out the far reaching skill set of a successful TD.

Technical Management for the Performing Arts Mark Shanda & Dennis Dorn (2016)

Technical Management for the Performing Arts: Utilizing Time, Talent, and Money is a comprehensive guide to the tools and strategies of a successful technical manager. This book demonstrates how you can coordinate personnel, raw materials, and venues, all while keeping a production on a tight schedule and within budget. From concept to realization, through nightly performances, Technical Management for the Performing Arts focuses on the technical and organization skills a technical manager must demonstrate, and emphasizes the need for creativity and interpersonal management of a team.

Structural Design for the Stage Alys Holden, Bronislaw Sammler, Bradley L Powers & Steven A Schmidt (2015)

The follow-up to the 2000 Golden Pen Award-winning Structural Design for the Stage, this second edition provides the theater technician with a foundation in structural design, allowing an intuitive understanding of "why sets stand up." It introduces the basics of statics and the study of the strength of materials as they apply to typical scenery, emphasizing conservative approaches to real world examples. This is an invaluable reference for any serious theatre technician throughout their career, from the initial study of the fundamental concepts, to the day-to-day use of the techniques and reference materials.

Entertainment Rigging for the 21st Century Bill Sapsis (2015)

From the basics of physical forces and mathematical formulas to performer flying and stage automation, Entertainment Rigging for the 21st Century provides you with insider information into rigging systems and the skills you need to safely operate them. Over the past decade, the entertainment industry has witnessed major changes in rigging technology, as manually operated rigging has given way to motorized systems in both permanent and touring productions, and greater attention has been paid to standardizing safety practices. This book leads you through what is currently happening in the industry, why it’s happening, and how. Accessible for riggers and non-riggers alike, it contains details on the technology and methodology used to achieve the startling effects found in concerts and stage shows.

Technical Design Solutions for Theatre Volume 3 Ben Sammler & Don Harvey (2013)

Technical Design Solutions for Theatre is a collection of single-focus articles detailing technical production solutions that have appeared in The Technical Brief Collection, a publication of the Yale School of Drama’s Technical Design and Production Department. The primary objective of the publication was to share creative solutions to technical problems so that fellow theatre technicians can avoid having to reinvent the wheel with each new challenge. The range of topics includes scenery, props, painting, projections, sound, and costumes. Each article describes an approach, device, or technique that has been tested onstage or in a shop.

Technical Articles and Papers

Structural Design Requirements for Entertainment Venues — Structure Magazine (March 2008)

Rigging systems impose unusual loads on building system frames. A clear set of design criteria is best established during the schematic design of the entertainment facility.

Winch BasicsProtocol (Fall 2001)

Learn what you need to know to help your customers obtain the equipment that will meet their needs. This article explains what to look for in winches, the central element of any motorized rigging system.

Electrical Winch Controls — Protocol (Fall 2003)

This article focuses on the basic electrical requirements of the motors and user interface issues you will need to address before specifying, building or buying winch controls.

Motion Control System Safety — Protocol (Winter 2008)

Automated rigging systems can provide increased safety and reliability as long as the right measures are taken and key points are considered.

Stage Rigging 101 — Sound & Video Contractor (October 2002)

Learn about the basic function, uses, and components involved in stage rigging.

New Loads for Old Structures — Protocol (Winter 2002)

When converting or refitting an older building with modern lighting, rigging, sound equipment and more, one of the biggest unknowns is the load-carrying capacity of the structure. This article explores how to proceed with a structural evaluation.

How to Communicate With Your Structural Engineer – The ESG Report (Spring 2007, Part 1)

Probably better entitled "Engineer-Speak 101," the author reviews basic concepts and terms you should know when communicating with your structural engineer.

How to Communicate With Your Structural Engineer – The ESG Report (Summer 2007, Part 2)

In Part II of a multi-part article on communicating with your structural engineer, the author discusses the importance of providing quality information to your engineer as it will directly impact the final deliverable.

About Our Blocks – J.R. Clancy (2007)

Find out more about our nylon and cast iron sheaves – including the bearings they are equipped with and the shafts that support them – and their applications.

Brakes for Theatrical Hoists – J.R. Clancy (2007)

This article discusses the relevance of brakes as applied to theatre hoists, writing specification for hoist brakes, and recommended design practices. Terms to define brakes on hoists are first standardized to eliminate misinterpretation.

Trim Chains – The ESG Report (Fall 2008)

An evaluation of what types of chain are appropriate for use as theatrical trim chains.

Chain for Theatrical Use – J.R. Clancy (2007)

An overview of chain options and safety features as well as a look at our Turner & Seymour 30 Proof chain and its use for both dead hanging and trim chains.

Fire Curtains – J.R. Clancy (2007)

Learn about fire curtains at a glance. This article covers their use, motorized vs. manual curtains, speed regulations and diagrams of Straight Lift and Brail fire curtains.

Zetex® Plus Fabric – J.R. Clancy (2007)

A closer look at the strength and flame-, abrasion-, and spark-resistance of Zetex Plus fabric with its zero-generated smoke rating.

Line Shaft Hoist FAQ’s – J.R. Clancy (2007)

Theatrical hoists hold and move loads above people. Yet, how much do we know about hoists, how to keep their components aligned and the types of coupling and shafting that should be used? Simple explanations are offered in this Q & A.

Nicopress® Sleeves & Tools – J.R. Clancy (2009)

A technical description of how to use the Nicopress documentation and gauges to inspect newly installed swages in the field.

Drawing & Information Requirements – J.R. Clancy (2009)

Here’s what we need from our dealers so we can provide system drawings for submittal and installation.

Rigging Systems For Small Venues – Live Design Online (2009)

How to deal with the design and operation challenges of small theatre spaces.