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Rigging 201

Rigging Team Efficiency

The most important thing for an efficient rigging team is Communication!!

Using radios and communicating the important information quickly can prevent disaster and make the rig smoother.

Always remember: If you see something that might be unsafe for people or equipment, YELL STOP. Even if you aren't sure if its unsafe, its better to stop things to confirm.

Do not say whoa, hey, ope or anything except Stop.

Riggers use “Jazz hands” to illustrate that it is clear to take weight. The down-rigger should first put their hands out, which is a way of asking the up-riggers at that point to put their hands out. When the down-rigger sees both sets of hands, they know that it is clear.

Using verbals to give the point to the down-rigger allows for cross-communication and the down-rigger could misunderstand which point is okay to take weight on.

Something to remember when unable to use radios is that from 80 feet away, “onstage” and “offstage” sound the same. We should use hand signals for these directions whenever possible.


If you tie on a point, that point is your responsibility. If you walk away from it before it is called done, you must keep one eye on it (or ask another down-rigger to) and come back to make sure it is clear. Otherwise, there is a risk of someone putting weight on it before the up-riggers are ready.

There may a legitimate reason that the down-rigger insists on a point needing to be done first. Usually, because the show needs it right away. There may also be a legitimate reason that the up-rigger says not to do that point next. This is why communication via radio is so important; sometimes the important information is complex and we need to be on the same page.

There are also times where you need an up-rigger to move beams to get to a specific point next rather than where he is at. This is okay here and there, but it needn’t be a constant run around the grid; traversing the grid is very time consuming.

Don’t let carabiners swing.

Check your shackle pins before you send the point up.

When letting in points, up-riggers should pause for the two-seconds it takes to unhook the motor, before dropping the rest of the steel. It’s a small courtesy that we can all agree to.

When checking a bridle point, make sure you are looking up at the hook as you take weight so you see how it moves. If you are looking at the mark on floor and dragging the chain to it, you are checking nothing.

It is a good idea for the down-rigger to have their own laser to check points in the arena. A down-rigger should always have their own laser in the theater.

In the theater, you are using the laser to indicate the exact spot where the rope should come through the subway grid. This will make the point location automatically accurate.

In the arena, when taking weight on a bridle, put your laser where the hook lands when it has weight on it. Then you can compare that to the desired point location.

Before sending up a point, make sure to look up. Look at the beam for obstacles.

Check to see if the hockey net will be in the way and whether one rigger needs to throw his rope over it.

Generally, we tend to pull points working from upstage to down. This is dependent on the show rigger, but this is the usual course. Help each other remember to be both building points and sending them in that order.

The house has gotten better about getting the stage square and center, but help the head rigger remember to check that before we start sending up points that may be marked on it.

Beams have certain weight capacities. The further you get from a knuckle (where the beams meet), the lower the capacity. Just keep an eye out for situations in which the show intends to hang a lot of points on a single beam, especially when many of them will end up in the middle of the beam.

When helping copy mirrored points on the floor:

Make sure you have the correct mirrored point.

If you get it wrong, that point math will be way off.

Make sure you draw the bridle symbol facing the way the bridle will hang.

[Make sure you build and set the point facing the correct way as well.]

Rescue Plan

When an up-rigger falls and is hanging by their harness, they are at risk of Suspension Trauma, which can be fatal. It is up to the other riggers to get that up-rigger safely to the ground. We all have roles to play in this --
Down-riggers need to:

  • Clear the area (if not clear the entire floor)
  • Call 911

  • Notify the steward

  • Obtain the rescue gear and bring it to the area

  • Tie the rescue pulley on a rope for the up-riggers to bring up

  • Run the rope (pull to unlock the pulley and then slowly lower in the victim to the floor

  • Ensure the safe landing of the victim and keep them calm and safe until the paramedics arrive

Up-riggers need to:

  • Send a rope in for the pulley

  • Keep the person calm and focused if they are conscious (make sure they don't insist on rescuing themselves, that way we don't make a dangerous situation worse)

  • Attach the sling around the beam and make sure the rescue rope goes to the floor without foul

  • Attach the pulley hook to the BACK ring of the victim's harness

  • Once it is CERTAIN that the rescue pulley has the victim's full weight, detach the victim's lanyard from the lifeline

  • Monitor the lowering process and communicate with the down-riggers

stage rigging.jpg

Please watch this short video on the operation of rescue equipment.:

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