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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

December 2, 2008

Learning How To Fly, By William Terranova (Marley)

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 3:05 pm

The first flying rehearsal was Monday, November 24.  I was looking forward with much anticipation and with some anxiety.  I knew there wasn’t any significant risk of physical harm, but I wasn’t so sure about how my ego would hold up.

The first rehearsal was mostly about getting the flight harness adjusted properly.  Two wires extend from an overhead carriage/trolley and attach to the harness at the hips.  The harness transfers the upward force to the entire pelvis.  That is a very stable set-up as long as the harness straps in the groin area are properly situated (if you catch my drift).  The only other worry is balance.  Since the attachment is at the hips, that becomes the pivot point.  Too much weight above the pivot point and you pitch forward and continue into a spin.  This is exactly what happened to me the first time up in the air.   Unexpected and literally “breathtaking”.  So the harness attachment points have to be adjusted for each body type.

Once that was accomplished and I could go up and down without added thrills, we began to try flying.  The flier can be moved up and down (y axis) or side to side (x axis).  There are two crew members back stage—each manning a set of ropes which controls movement along one axis.  Flying is thus a combination of movement in both axes.  That’s pretty straightforward.  Landing, however, is much more complex, as it requires much more precision in movement along each axis.

For example.  Flying from right to left to land on the top of a dresser requires that lateral movement be nearly stopped when downward motion places the flier on the dresser top.  If not, then the flier simply skims off.  It must be done at speed; no mincing about allowed.  That, as they say in the trade—well, at least as they say in my trade—has a steep learning curve. 

 My job is to be as relaxed as possible on the landings so, even if not perfect, they look natural.  My job is also to not look like a puppet being dragged across space, but a being in control of movement. And still to deliver the lines as I have been in rehearsal.  Like I said—a learning curve!

The remaining rehearsals have been— for me, Mike (y axis) and Norman(x axis) — a trek along the learning curve.   Every night has seen us get better.  Julian, MaryBeth, my wife, and my daughter were all right.  This has been an experience not to be missed.

Thursday.  Director’s Circle!



(William Terranova As Marley Flying On The Fly By Foy System) 

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