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Stage Curtains
We believe in providing a service at Show Works.  No curtain system is the same.  Please contact us directly for an estimate on your curtain project.
Please feel free to acquaint yourself with some information regarding types of stage curtains.
Custom Fabrication and Installation
When it comes to theatrical stage curtains and rigging systems, Show Works is recognized for outstanding craftsmanship and premium service! Whether you simply need your stage curtains replaced, a curtain track installed, or an entire fly system designed and installed.
Stage Curtains and Theater Drapery Defined
Standard Stage Curtain Fabrication
All of our standard curtains are sewn with an additional 50% fullness with 6" box pleats on 12" centers. Grommets and either tie line or s-hooks are supplies as requested. Pleats are sewn on a double layer of vinyl-coated polyester that is permanently and inherently flame resistant. Unlike most of our competitor's curtains, our headings have a breaking strength of 252 lbs. warp and 237 lbs. fill and a tear resistance of 76 lbs. warp and 82 lbs. fill. The headings on our curtains are permanently flame resistant and virtually indestructable

Fabric Selections

  • 16oz Velour- Originally developed for use as cyclorama curtains or window draperies.
  • 20oz Velour - Medium weight velour, for front curtains or window draperies on even for cyclorama curtains, depending on budget
  • 25oz Velour - Standard weight used for stage front curtains and valances. Depending on budget, it's even used for cyclorama curtains. There is a carded and combed 25-oz velour. The extra manufacturing step of combing the velour gives it more of a "velvet" appearance, but it is very seldom used.
  • 32oz Velour - Heavy-weight of the velour family, used where the customer wants only the very heaviest fabric. Since 20, 25, and 32 oz velours tend to look pretty much the same from the audience, we tend to recommend the use of 25 oz velour for stages for schools.
Other fabrics such as Chevron, Atlas Oxford, Duvetyne and Willow are Standard alternatives to velour curtains and are often used when budgets are a factor.
Top Hems are reinforced with 3" vinyl-coated polyester. Side hems are 6" on all front curtains and 3" on all other curtains. Floor length curtains are weighted with a series of galvanized weights encased within individual pockets within the bottom hem. Chain weights or lead weights are not acceptable as they will eventually wear through the bottom hem exposing the unsightly chain or lead weight.
Leading edges of all traveler curtains will have a minimum turn back of 24" of face material. All other vertical hems shall be 2".
Traveler curtains are supplied with S-hooks and dead hung curtains are supplied with 32" tie lines.
IFR-Inherently Flame Resistant Fabrics
IFR fabrics for stage curtains are becoming more popular in our nations schools, especially in areas where fire marshals are more active.
IFR fabrics generally cost more up front than comparable cotton fabrics but in the long run after taking in to consideration the cost of re-treating cotton fabrics and the labor involved a few times in the life of your curtains you might find the extra costs well worth it.
The Advantages of IFR fabrics are:
  • Being inherently flame resistant, they never need re-treatment
  • They can be dry cleaned with less cleaning restrictions than flame-resistant treated cotton. Vinyl back fabrics still need special care when cleaning or washing.
  • If water or other fluids are leaked or spilled on them, it can be wiped or washed off without leaving a flame-resistant chemical stain.
IFR's currently available are:
"PRESTIGE" - Polyester velour; 26 oz. weight-this synthetic velour is available in all cotton velour colors.
"ENCORE" - Polyester velour; 22 oz. and 15 oz. weight; synthetic velour is available in a wide range of cotton velour colors.
"DORAL" and "NEVADA" fabrics; DORAL has a vinyl backing and NEVADA is unbacked.
"ICON" - with and without vinyl backing.
"VELOURETTE" - a less expensive polyester with a crushed velour appearance; vinyl backed.
IFR CHEVRON 2000 - Polyester repp that looks like Nassau Chevron cotton repp; in a wide variety of colors.
CYC CLOTH - 72" wide polyester fabric in five colors; for cyclorama curtains and for TV studio curtains.

Stage Curtains and Theater Drapery

Theatrical softgoods - the stage curtains and theater drapery - are an often overlooked aspect to stagecraft.

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between stage curtains and theater drapery types - such as Teasers, Tormenters, Border Curtains, or Theater Scrims - the stage curtain pictures and explanations provided below may help. You'll also find information on stage curtain fabric choices and curtain track selection.

The front curtain - known also as the grand drape, act curtain or house curtain - hangs just upstage of the proscenium arch and is used to close the acting area from the audience's view when the acting area is not supposed to be seen. There are several types of front curtains:

The braille curtain is suspended from the gridiron and either raised or lowered by a counter weight system in order to expose, or close, the stage.

The traveller curtain is composed of two sections of curtain suspended from a traveller track, allowing the curtain to part in the middle and pull offstage into the wings.

The "tab" or tableau curtain gathers the two sections of fabric up and to the sides and usually forms a draped effect when it is opened.

Typical Fabric Choices for a Grand Drape include 21oz or heavier Cotton Velour or 22oz Encore Velour.

Track Recommendations for this type of application will vary depending on the style of drape chosen.

Stage Backdrop

Stage Backdrop Image (Flat Curtain, Often Used for Theatrical Scenery)

A standard stage backdrop or theatrical backdrop is made from flame retardant muslin, sewn without fullness. It has a strip of very heavy fabric, called webbing, across the top, which is studded with grommets. (Brass eyelets that are embedded into the fabric) Small pieces of tie-line are then fed through the grommets so that the drop can be tied to what ever will support it. Typically a drop will have a pipe pocket sewn onto the bottom to accept a pipe. The weight of the pipe will help to pull the drop flat.

For theatrical scenery, images and textures can be hand painted by a scenic artist or digitally printed. Either method may be combined with bobinette or scrim fabric to create a cut drop.

Traveler Curtain

Traveler Image (Often Two Overlapping Curtain Halves)

The conventional action of a Draw or Traveler Curtain is the drawing together of two curtain halves on two overlapping sections of track. The track guides the carriers, which are attached to the top edge of the curtain at about 1-foot intervals.

The draw line is fastened to the first or lead carrier which pushes or pulls the rest of the carriers to open or close the curtain. Sometimes a one-way traveler is needed, which means that instead of coming from opposite sides of the stage, the curtain is drawn on stage from one side on a single long track.

Typical Fabric Choices for a main stage drape or traveler include Cotton Velour, and Encore Velour. While an upstage drape may sewn unlined, a main stage drape will usually be lined to help with opacity and add to the life of the drape.

Track Recommendations for this type of application include the Silent Steel 280 series and the Besteel 170 Series by ADC.

Tableau Curtain

Tableu Curtain Image (Tab Curtain, Two Curtains Overlapping)

Like the Traveller, the Tableau Curtain is made up of two curtain panels hung, with center overlap, from a single batten. Each panel is lifted by a diagonal drawline attached to the central edge about a third of its height off the floor, that runs through rings on the back of the curtain to a pulley on the batten.

Typical Fabric Choices for a tab curtain include Cotton Velour, and Encore Velour. While an upstage tab drape may sewn unlined, a tab which will play downstage will usually be lined to help with opacity and add to the life of the drape.

Track Recommendations for this type of application include the Silent Steel 280 series and the Besteel 170 Series by ADC. The "tab" motion of the drape will only work from the curtains closed position.

Contour Curtain

Contour Curtain Image (Full Curtain with Vertical Draw)

The Contour Curtain is made is a single panel with great fullness, usually about 200 percent of the curtain width. The curtain, which is made of thin or soft material to drape well, is tripped by a series of vertical draw lines attached to the bottom edge of the curtain and running through rings on the back to pulleys attached on the batten. By varying the lift on certain lines the bottom edge of the curtain takes on many different contours.

Typical Fabric Choices for a contour drape include Sparkle Satin and Irridescent Silky Charmeuse. For a spectacular piece consider metal boucle or liquid lame.

Track Recommendations for this type of application will vary depending on the number of lift lines and whether they are motorized or not. A decorative set piece that is not intended to move can be rigged with fixed lines from a batten and will not require any track.

Austrian / Braille Curtain

Austrian Curtain Image (Front Curtain, Vertically Lifted)

The Front Curtain in a no-loft stage is sometimes rigged as a Braille curtain to achieve a faster and more-desirable lifting action than the slower motion of a traveller curtain. In this case the amount of lift on each drawline is equal, eliminating the need for the abnormal fullness of a contour curtain. When in it's lowered/closed position, a braille curtain will simply hang with the look of a regular drape with fullness. The lift lines will be strategically and evenly placed on the back side of the drape on the seams.

To add a decorative quality the curtain may have horizontal fullness added by gathering material on the vertical seams, thereby producing a series of soft swags. Best known as an Austrian curtain. The image to the left shows an Austrian Curtain being raised.

Typical Fabric Choices for a brail or austrian drape include Encore Velour, Sparkle Satin and Irridescent Silky Charmeuse.

Track Recommendations for this type of application will vary depending on the number of lift lines. A motorized system is necessary for this type of drape and will require installation space and electrical elements to be positioned by a licensed contractor.


Teaser and Tormentor Image (Horizontal and Vertical Masking Pieces)

Within certain limits the size of any proscenium arch can be altered by using a Teaser and Tormentors. The Teaser is a horizontal masking border usually made of the same material as the front curtain. It is attached to a batten and suspended just upstage of the main curtain. The exposed area above settings of different heights can be masked by raising or lowering the teaser.

Typical Fabric Choices for a teaser include Cotton Velour, and Encore Velour or whatever fabric the related Grand Drape has been manufactured of.

The tormentors are vertical masking pieces usually of plain "flat / framed" construction, placed on either side of the proscenium opening just upstage of the teaser. They are usually covered in black velour or painted scenery canvas and are used to reduce or reveal the full width of the proscenium arch as needed to fit each setting.

Typical Fabric Choices for a tormentor include Black Cotton Velour and Black Commando Cloth .

Legs / Border

Legs and Border Image (For Masking, Additional Stage Depth)

Additional stage depth and masking of technical equipment is achieved by the placement of multiple sets of Legs and a Border. While they serve much the same purpose as the teaser and tormentors, they are usually always of standard drapery construction and are used to reduce or reveal the full width of the proscenium arch as needed to fit each setting.

While legs and borders can me manufactured without a lining, for maximum opacity and longevity of drapery it is recommended that they be lined. The lining will help to prevent any damage to the face fabric by set pieces that may come into contact with the back side of the drape. Additionally, a lining will slow the process of the fabric becoming brittle when exposed at close proximity to stage lights.

Typical Fabric Choices for legs and borders include Cotton Velour, Encore Velour. For an economy masking drape with reasonable opacity consider 16oz Commando Cloth.

Track Recommendations for this type of application include the Silent Steel 280 series and the Besteel 170 Series by ADC. Borders which are not intended to move may be rigged directly to a batten or pipe.


Scrim or Transparent Curtain Image (Transparent Stage Curtain)

A Scrim is a commonly used piece of stage curtain magic. Due to the scrim fabric’s unique capabilities, when lit correctly from the front, a scrim appears opaque. When the front light is turned off, however, and objects behind the scrim are lit, the fabric appears transparent.

Sharkstooth scrim fabric, with its rectangular weave is dense enough to provide a dye-painting surface and still become transparent when back-lit, therefore making it an extremely versatile piece of stage scenery.


Cyclorama Image (Cyc, Largest Piece of Scenery)

The largest single piece of scenery in the theatre is the Cyclorama or "cyc". As the name Cyclorama (theater) implies, it encircles or partially encloses the scene to form the background. It's most familiar use is as a sky or void backing a setting or elements of scenery placed in the foreground. The flat background of the cyclorama blends into the sides in a gentle arc and is kept smooth by fastening the tielines to both a top and bottom curved pipe. Occasionally it is painted with a decorative or pictorial scene to fit a specific show.

Typical Fabric Choices: As seams tend to interrupt the smooth surface of the cyclorama it is usually recommended that it be made from extra-wide muslin so that it can be of seamless construction.

Track Recommendations for this type of application will usually be for a rolled Schedule 40 pipe with Spigots for dead hung installation onto a batten for trim flexibility. A second identical pipe should be rolled for insertion into the bottom hem (pipe pocket) of the cyc. Only rarely will a cyclorama be hung on a one way track for storage to the side. Leaving the cyclorama in a stored position for extended periods causes vertical wrinkles that can obscure the smooth effect usually provided by the seamless surface.
Theater drapes and stage curtains. (2006, December 27). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:33, January 31, 2007
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