September 28, 2019 – Slinger, WI – For thousands of years, flight has been used to amplify theatre experiences; one of the first records of flight in the theater was in 425 B.C. in Ancient Greece.
Many state-of-the-art auditoriums come equipped with flying rigs, trapdoors, and other interesting features, but what might come as a surprise is many high school theatres also have these components.
Flight in theater uses a combination of levers and pulleys to suspend actors for periods amounts of time. They are hoisted up using the strength of the stage crew; it is their job to make sure nothing happens to the actors while they are in the air.
Slinger High School’s Performing Art Center (PAC) is preparing for its second production. Last year SHS rocked the stage with its rendition of The Wizard of Oz.
This musical featured several different flying scenes, all of which were performed by high school and elementary students. Each person who flew had to get their parents’ permission to participate in the scenes. The people controlling the rig were the high school stage crew.
The stage crew was trained by a professional for a little over a month right up to showtime. Select members of the crew each had a specific job to make sure the flight was as safe as possible for performers.
One of the most important jobs for the flight team is making sure the rig is properly hooked to the performer’s harness. If it’s not, the performer could be seriously injured.
This year SHS is putting on another musical that has flying as a key component: Mary Poppins. This musical features only one character that flies, unlike The Wizard of Oz, where multiple characters were flying.
This musical features an English nanny, Mary, who uses her umbrella to float high in the air. This gives the musical a fantastical feeling, and the use of flying rigs adds a flair of magic to the performance.
Shows will begin in November and tickets will be available soon.
Graphic courtesy: Alderson, Mick. “Rigging Systems: Operation and Safety Rules.” Fly Systems, 2010,
Photo courtesy: “Photo Flash: First Look at Music Theatre of Wichita’s MARY POPPINS.” Broadwayworld.com, 14 Aug. 2013,