Punchman's tips

KEEPING IT UP

Securing a lazy-tong or other callapsible booth when used outdoors is always a problem, especially in high winds.
On grass or sand:
Firstly it is important that your guy ropes are in the correct position. Correctly positioned on the diagonals (A) then four ropes should hold the booth in the most severe winds. You can use eight ropes but these should be position as shown in the smaller picture (B).
To prevent them pulling out it is important that tent pegs are driven in at an angle, especially if the ground is soft.
The guy ropes will definitely hold the fit-up, but in a high wind they won't stop it twisting. The legs need securing. This is simply done by driving a strong peg parallel with each leg of the fit-up, and then securing it tightly with a cable tie.
Another vulnerability in very strong winds is where the uprights join - usually just a spike in one dropping into a hole in the other. A strong upward gust can lift one or more out of position. The remedy is to link top and bottom halves of the frame using bungee cords hooked into large screw eyes, one to each upright.
It is essential that guy ropes are fitted and, when necessary, bungees attached and uprights pegged before the tilt (cover) is put on the frame. Sometimes I peg the guys before I fit the proscenium section because a strong wind can blow the frame over ever before the cover is attached.

On a hard standing:
Lazy tong booths are not ideal - there are booth designs much better suited. I use a plywood framed booth where the weight of the structure keeps in stable. Then I have also an Eric Sharp designed booth which is kept stable by parking your car alongside with one wheel securing the booth.
But you can cope on a hard standing with the a lazy tong booth with a bit of ingenuity. Remember how we secure it on grass and try to mimic these methods. Instead of tent pegs the guy ropes can be attached to weights of some kind, or tied off to a vehicle bumper bar, to street furniture, park benches, sandbags, containers full of water etc.
You can, on occasion, use tent pegs on a hard surface. You can buy thin steel pins, like very long masonry nails, and these can be used on tarmac surfaces, or driven into cracks on paved surfaces. It is worth having a few in the box. They are also good on soft, but very stony ground.
Also you can secure the legs of the frame by fastening them to heavy objects inside or outside the booth. Geoff Felix, for example, uses the trolley on which he transports his equipment as extra weight to secure his booth. Also getting near to a wall or alongside a vehicle can help.
The traditional street-punch way was for the performer to use his own weight to hold the booth - by standing on a platform or strap which stretched from one side of the booth to the other.
At one time when I was working regularly on a station platform I carried to lengths of really thick heavy planking which I laid on the ground. The frame legs attached to this with cable ties through very heavy screw eyes. Also I had a floor which straddled the planks so that my own weight added to the stability.
And do read John Alexander's The Expanded Frame File available from Arcady Press




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