Typical 17th Century Mechanized Wing Change
The typical 17th century wing change mechanism utilized a series of banks of trolleys running in tracks located under the stage. The trolleys have poles or frames that extending through slots in the stage floor that are used to support scenic wings. The trolleys are connected a central shaft that was connected by ropes to a wing in each bank. When the shaft rotated, the ropes were wound on the shaft pulling the wings onstage. The offstage ends of each wing to be pulled on stage was connected via a direction-changing pulley to the wings to be pulled offstage. Often the shaft was revolved by the energy provided by a falling counterweight. This machinery is shown in the Palatina MS 3708 and in Sir Phillip Skippon's travel journal, both of which illustrate machinery used on the Venetian stage.
Typical Mechanized 17th Century Wing Change
Other variations on this machinery are shown in Fabrizio Carini Motta's "Constuzione de teatri e machine teatrali."
Dr. Frank Mohler
Department of Theatre & Dance
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608