This book provides the theater technician with a foundation in structural design allowing an intuitive understanding of why sets "stand up". It introduces the basics of statics and the study of the strength of materials as they apply to typical scenery, with a minimum of theory and many examples. The material is presented such that only a basic knowledge of algebra, geometry and trigonometry is required. This useful text is also invaluable to professionals as a permanent handbook complete with carefully selected reference tables, which are applicable to most theatrical situations. Traditionally, theatrical design and carpentry are rooted in a craft-based tradition that places a high value on empirically tested techniques; in other words, if it was done that way for a show and nothing fell down, then that's the way it will be done.

Key Features

Many scenic construction examples with a "how-to" approach Material organized around one hour lessons with additional problems following each lesson and answers to the even numbered ones in an appendix Three appendices with reference and design values for common shapes and sizes of lumber, plywood and steel used in theatrical applications


Technical theatre courses specializing in structural design. Professional stage technicians and scenic designers.

Table of Contents

Introduction; Forces, Stressees and Strains; Stress Analysis for Beams, Geometric Properties; Sawn Lumber Beam Designs; Wood Column Analysis and Design; Combined Loading for Wood Members; Steel Beam Design; Steel Column Analysis and Design; Combined Loading for Steel members; Trusses and Cables; Plywood Design; Appendices; Works Cited.


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© 1999
Focal Press
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:

About the authors

Ben Sammler

Ben Sammler is currently the Chairman of the Department of Technical Design and Production for Yale School of Drama. He is the Production Supervisor for Yale Repertory Theatre and has over seen over 150 productions. Ben Sammler is also an experienced lighting designer and technical director with over 15 years of teaching experience, as well as the co-author of Structural Design for the Stage, 1999 (Focal Press), winner of the Golden Pen Award presented by USITT in 2000.


An excellent resourse to teach the physics of structures to tech theatre students. It covers the parts of structural engineering that pertaining to theatre without getting too far from the practical aplication. (Tom Davis, U of Florida) A unique text that fills a long-standing void. (Henry Grillo, NC School of the Arts)