In April 2017, a fire broke out in UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts’ Mainstage Theatre causing significant damage to the theater seats, scene shop, backstage space, and lighting system. Clearwing Systems Integration was contracted to reconstruct the rigging and lighting systems, renewing just a portion of the $5.7 million of damage throughout the building.
The rigging system in UWM’s Mainstage space was original to the building with authentic and vintage parts from when the space first opened over 50 years ago. The install included counterweight linesets for moving scenery up and down over the stage, masking curtains to block the audience’s view of backstage, and a grand drape to complement the theater decor. These updates provide a new sense of comfort and security in the educational space.
Rigging components were provided by H&H Specialties, a distinguished national supplier of stage rigging equipment; drapes by Bellatex, a leading manufacturer in stage drapery; and a fire safety curtain by Thermotex, designed to contain fire and provide separation between audience and stage in the case of a fire in the future.
The lighting portion consists of new dimmers, house lights, architectural control, and system networking by Electronic Theatre Control out of Middleton, WI. The new system is capable of controlling both older-style incandescent stage fixtures, as well as new technology like LEDs, moving lights, and effects projectors. Because it is based on network infrastructure, the lighting control is flexible and allows for expandability as the needs of the University and its productions change over time.