Playboard depth

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Playboard depth

Postby Chris Richard » 21 Jun 2018, 02:00

What's a good depth for a playboard?

I know, I know. As deep as you need. . .

So then, how deep is the playboard of the booth YOU generally use?

Here's a side view diagram of the frame I'm building, which is fastened together with 1/4 inch bolts and wingnuts. The playboard (shown in yellow) is set in where the top frame and bottom frame bolt together. So some of the board will extend a couple inches inside the proscenium and more of it will extend outside. Generally, what's a good depth of a playboard, besides "as deep as you need"?


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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Chris » 21 Jun 2018, 13:08

No Chris, not as deep as you need it, rather as narrow as you can possibly make it. Because the children are usually sat below the level of the playboard their line of sight is interupted by the front of the playboard. You doubtless know that with glove puppets that the further you move them towards the backcloth then the less you see of them. A puppet moving back from playboard to backloth looks like someone sinking into quicksand.
Now an extra inch in depth of the playboard is exactly the same, visually, as moving the puppet back an inch towards the back. This applies whether your playboard projects back into the booth, or forward of the pros.
A very narrow playboard is the aim.

Wih some productions you can get away without any playboard and this is great, but Punch usually needs one - nearly always for laying down the baby, parking the slapstick, and if you do do it, the bodies in the counting the bodies routine.

My widest playboard is 6 inches, the others are 5 inches. I do the same show with the same figures in each, so obviously 5 inches is adequate. I do lay the baby on the playboard, and the slapstick at one point - in each case I have to take care because they can be knocked off and the additional inch of the wider playboard does give a bit more security. I do always give my playboards a non slip surface.

The plans for George Blake's original lazy tongs booth show a playboard 8 inches wide which I think is too much. When George designed his booth he was thinking in terms of the conditions of the day when beach shows would draw audiences of 100 or more with many of them standing, and kids hoisted on adult shoulders so the angles of sight of a seated child audience were not the prime consideration. Also puppets then were generally much bigger than today's figures.

Another consideration is whether the playboard should project forwards or back. This does not affect the visibility problems at all - but if you want access to push things up through a hole in the playboard then a playboard that projects inside the booth is best. If however you want puppets to pop out below the playboard drape then a forward thrust is what you want.
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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Richard Coombs » 22 Jun 2018, 11:21

I concur with my learned colleague :=))

This was a factor I had not taken into consideration when building my Heights of Abraham Summer Booth all those years ago.


So when I extended the booth three summers ago to accommodate the "Rain Hood" I also sliced and inch and a half off the play board at the same time.

It doesn't effect popping the croc or the clown out under the pelmet , but does improve sight lines for people seated on chairs.
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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Richard Coombs » 22 Jun 2018, 11:35

Chris ( USA) ...
You seem to have got your booth building 'Mojo' back .
I am pleased for you :-)

It also looks as though you are using two solid side frames bolted or hinged together?
Did you rework the frames you had started making before? or begin again from scratch ?


All good stuff anyhow .

Since a complex plan no longer seems to frighten you, there is another option with play boards.

As Chris ( UK) has said , they can extend either into our outside the booth , or a bit of both.

It is surprising how little they need to extend outside of the frame to ( a) look good with a Pelmet on and (b) have easy clearance to get the crocodile under..

The third way I discovered on my latest ( Golden ) booth:
You can have a play board that extends out , but that also has a rebate in it making it narrower in the middle.

That way puppets can move that all important inch and a half nearer the audience ,( they move an inch and a half OUTSIDE of the frame in effect) but the pelmet still hangs proud of the booth.

As always a picture is easier than a lot of words , so I will either try and find one , or take one of the play board when I unpack the van tommorow.
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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Richard Coombs » 22 Jun 2018, 11:51

Found some pics.

With the fancy-pants moulded columns of my proscenium it isn't all that easy to make out what is actually going on with the play board

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The play board does extend a few centimetres 'inside' the booth frame.
But my proscenium uprights also rebate 'back into' the booth, making it tricky to make out what is going on.
Because of the thickness of the column bases it 'looks' like the board doesn't stick out much at all from the booth. But I can assure you it does, and is about five and a half inches wide.

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In the performance area the board narrows to about three inches .
During the performance , or with the curtains closed the audience is not at all aware of this.

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The clearest photo of the board on its own is this one ( the play board is at the top of the photo)


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Just another option for you to consider: you can make your play board exactly as per your diagram ...or you could jigsaw out some of its depth , allowing you to perform your puppets just a small amount 'outside' the proscenium , and nearer your audience.

If you use this method , I would recommend a gentle angled slope between the two depths as I have done for maximum strength.

A ninety degree cut would weaken things a bit I feel.

Good Luck with it. ( as always ..photos please !)

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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Chris Richard » 23 Jun 2018, 04:01

Thank you, both of you. Great advice.

Besides the baby and the slapstick, I've got my sausage machine, which is four inches deep.

I guess I really don't need to make it any deeper than four and a half or five inches.

The rebate is a wonderful idea, Richard. Is it original to you? I've never seen that before.

I did start again from scratch. Each side is made of two frames. Instead of making each of them half the height of the booth, the lower frame is about playboard height and top one adds another two feet. They bolt together.
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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Nick Jackson » 25 Jun 2018, 22:14

Just had to run upstairs and measure mine. Both are 9" deep. One sits mostly out but partly in – this was originally to help with building it as it works on gravity. Yes, accept the point about sightlines and will look at reducing the depth. I've always worried – perhaps too much about dropping things on small people. My coffin is pretty weighty and dropping from 66" up....
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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Chris » 25 Jun 2018, 22:53

Things dropping off the playboard also work on gravity, therefore anything with any weight will fall straight down. If your audience are sitting so close that they will be hit by the falling coffin then nothing you can do to the playboard will improve the sightline more than moving them back a couple of yards. The're too damn close.
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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Nick Jackson » 25 Jun 2018, 23:27

Very true. Much better view when they'e a few feet back. And I can see them better too!
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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Chris Richard » 25 Jul 2018, 18:04

Well, I'm proceeding. The busy season for my job hit, then very hot weather, then vacation. But I have been moving along a bit. These photos show some progress. Sorry they're small. My daughter took them with an old phone without very high resolution.

What's missing from these photos is a brace that runs diagonally from the right side frame, just below the shelf, to the left side frame, about a foot from the ground. That will keep it square from side to side.

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The playboard is 5.5 inches wide and attaches as I showed at in the diagram in the first post at the top.
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Re: Playboard depth

Postby Richard Coombs » 02 Aug 2018, 19:55

Nice to see it all progressing well Chris,

And the smile on your face shows its been worth the work !

Bravo !
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