Luna Gale's Rotating Stage

Luna Gale's Rotating Stage

Posted by: at 02/05/2014 02:25 PM

One of the most remarkable set elements to our production of Rebecca Gilman's Luna Gale is the rotating stage, designed by Todd Rosenthal. We got a backstage tour of how this magnificent machine works from Assistant Technical Director Alex Bergeron.

If you were to find yourself behind the set of Luna Gale, you would find a large wooden box housing a 10 horsepower motor that moves a large chain, much like a bike chain. The chain is a continuous loop. It is bought on a spool, then cut to the desired length and joined into a loop with a special link called a master link. The chain wraps around the turntable and is then fed to the motor where it wraps around a sprocket that is spun by the motor shaft.

 Stage motor
Motor in the box on right, chain feeding under stage on left
Chain that runs underneath stage around turntable

Most of the motion is actually driven by friction. This created some challenges during tech for Luna Gale, as it is important to make sure the chain does not slip off the table. Caster wheels connected to the bottom of the turntable help turn the set around.

There is a two rotation limit for this particular set because of the electrical and sound cables running to the turntable. If the set was not wired for those, then it would be able to do as many rotations as we want. If we reverse two rotations first, then the turntable can do four rotations in the same direction, but this show does not require that.



A controller machine backstage is used to plot the coordinates of how much to turn the stage for stage transitions. By the end of the show, the stage has made 2 full rotations and is turned back the opposite way after the performance is over. For Luna Gale, there is just one controller working because there is only one effect element: the stage rotating. The more moving parts there are in a show, the more controllers are needed to control them: for a show like A Christmas Carol there were 6 automated effects, The Jungle Book had 14.

This particular turntable was built a few years ago when there were two shows in a season that required turntables. While many of the parts are reused—the motor, the chain—this one was made larger, and the Goodman has the parts to make an even larger one if a show required it. The Goodman currently has four different sizes of turntable that can be used in the theater.

Turntable prior to the stage floor being placed


There are many positive elements to using a turntable in a production. From a production standpoint, a turntable can eliminate crew runs. In Alex's opinion, there is "no way to do a show like this that looks so realistic without a turntable." This set element gives the production more depth as well as more option for scenes, even though it can be more complex to set up initially.

Watch carefully around the 00:15 mark in the video below to see the stage in action!

Don't miss your chance to see this play in action. Luna Gale is in the Albert Theater until February 23. Get tickets now.

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