There are many subtle symbols we automatically associate with the theatre or cinema. The safety curtain, designed for fire prevention. The folding seats, individually numbered and arranged in a row. Even the food, from popcorn to tiny tubs of ice cream, are in their own way iconic.
Rope is the most understated of all of these. It has had a long and prosperous career in performance art, serving as both props and pulleys throughout the centuries. As a guide to our film and theatre rope, we want to take you through the history its use, and explain why our range is worthy of any venue.
What Do You Use Film and Theatre Rope For?
The most obvious application of rope in film and theatre is the curtain. Most curtains today require mechanical power to operate, but there are still many establishments where a member of staff may operate the system, by pulling an operating line (i.e. a rope) or directly pulling the curtains.
The Ollo drop, for example, was a popular curtain in Vaudeville theatre in which a single, large canvas was lowered using a single coil of rope called an "operating line". There are also rope-related devices exclusive to theatre, such as the “rope lock”, which prevents a rope and the line set it controls from moving. A rope lock is controlled by a steel handle that engages the lock when vertical and releases it when horizontal.
Last but not least, you have the fly system - also called a theatrical rigging system. This allows the stage crew to to quickly, quietly and safely fly (hoist) components such as curtains, lights, scenery, stage effects (and yes, sometimes even people!). There are two main rigging systems - “hemp” (named after the material most commonly used for rope) and “counterweight”. While these processes have been largely automated in recent years, they take their inspiration from ship rigging systems - it’s why the stage is, to this day, often referred to as a “deck”.
Why Choose Our Film and Theatre Rope?
The Rope Warehouse stocks a collection of ropes for film and theatre rigging. Naturally, you can order any variant based on thickness (diameter), as well as your preferred left or right option. You can also use the ropes for general purposes, such as for exercise or marine operations.
On centre stage of our theatre rope selection is the Marlow D12 Dyneema Rope, which is widely used as a classic alternative to wire. This pre-stretched 12 strand rope is made with Dyneema, and can be ordered up to 22mm diameter. It’s designed to offer the same high strength, low stretch characteristics as the T12 range, but is considerably lighter and easier to work with.
Strength for strength it is lighter than steel, yet comes remarkably close to its durability.
Harking back to its long and historic use in the theatre, our Synthetic Hemp Rope boasts an average strength, good level of abrasion resistance and a natural looking appearance. It even retains that “hairy look” found in natural fibre.