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FRICTION DRIVE FOR EVERLASTING MOTION

Jan 2018 | Opera

How to move heavy pieces of sets sideways during a show, in a constant motion? After some years, we have become experts at providing simple solutions to such problems. Here we faced additional challenges, as the elements were quite unstable by nature, with a minimum rolling base of 18cm height, rolling on a 4% inclined stage. We had to get creative.

For Katia Kabanova of Léos Janacek, directed by Philipp Himmelmann with a set designed by David Hohmann, the scenography consists in an everlasting translation of 21 carriers of length 2.5m, width 1.2m and height 6m. They travel constantly from stage left to stage right at a varying speed of 1 to 6 m/min, precisely controlled to match the orchestra’s lead. No more than 5 elements are visible to the public simultaneously, and the configuration is always different.

The carriers are manually engaged backstage and align on two levels with a static front set. Actors walk in and out of the moving elements, and inside of those. In total, during 1h30, up to 6 tons are kept in motion by friction with 4 sets of wheels.

ExMachina designed the rolling bases and the guiding system, on which the Lorraine National Opera constructed the rest of the sets. Then, ExMachina rented out and commissioned the motorized units, powered by ARMAZ HEAVY motors, mostly buried under stage.

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