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THE Cross 
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Fresh Face
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Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:09 pm
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Post THE Cross
Does anyone have any close up pics or diagrams or other details of the Cross and associated base mechanism used in productions you can share? This obviously need to be constructed to provide as much safety as possible, while still remaining at least semi-portable, not to mention convincing.

I'm not interested in metal or truss work versions used in productions, I'm talking about wood Crosses (in the style of the 1973 movie production)

Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:24 pm
Broadway Legend
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Post Re: THE Cross
The key things when constructing a stage crucifixion:

1. You need a solid base for the cross to insert into. Either this base is cut into the stage floor, or secured well to said floor. The slot in the base is typically at a slight backward angle, so that the actor has to hold less of his own weight. The bottom 1 to 2 feet of the cross should be going into the base, and Jesus should never be hanging more than 5 or 6 feet from the bottom, meaning that in reality, he is only 4 feet or so from the set. (NOTE: People who volunteer to be crucified for this part are special. They are aware that the cross is 100% secure, and not afraid of seemingly unstable heights. Never use someone with any kind of vertigo, because even at such a small height, looking down off the stage, possibly on a set piece a little bit higher if you're going with a bigger cross, it looks friggin' high.) When you "nail him up," it will be either with the end of the cross in position, or it will have to be moved into position.
2. The ascension of the cross. There are one of two ways to lift this sucker: brute lifting power (provided by your hopefully burly Roman soldiers), or a pulley system involving a harness rigged around the legs and waist that attaches to the cross and creates the illusion of the cross rising by itself out of the darkness often used in this scene, which is an appropriately spooky effect. Brute lifting power is usually more reliable. When they raise the cross up, they simply let it slip into the slot. A wedge is used, with the hammer already on stage, to secure it.
3. The crucified actor must be able to hang to maintain the illusion. For this, you will need: hand grips or ropes, something to hold onto. Personal favorite: the metal strip material that comes with screw holes, for binding stuff together. You form a loop and nail it on with the formed hand slot at a natural angle. You can then take a threaded bolt and put it through the front to be the nail. Rope and Velcro have also been used in some professional situations to help hold the body up.
4. The crucified actor must be comfortable. Yes, yes, there has to be the illusion of pain, but if you don't do it right... For this, the cross needs: a small shelf for at least the back half of the actor's foot to stand on. He then curls his toes down to hide the shelf. A seat is nice if it can be rigged.
5. Extra special effects. A couple of productions have used this one, to fill space in "John 19:41" and leave it open-ended for the religious folks. After Jesus died (in this setting), the cross "disappeared" and he seemed to be floating in mid-air as the curtain fell. The effect is simply accomplished: you simply need black paint and a dark stage. Think like the opening of Pippin, light one thing very well and leave the rest in total darkness, et voila! Jesus floating in mid-air. The cross may or may not actually be there (COUGH it is COUGH), but the audience can't tell because there's no light on it.

Originally joined April 18, 2002
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Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:16 am
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 3:03 pm
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Location: England
Post Re: THE Cross

Play nice, now.

Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:22 am
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