Open Forum

Cleaning Stage Floor (shoes onstage?)/Removing Wing Curtains

  • 1.  Cleaning Stage Floor (shoes onstage?)/Removing Wing Curtains

    Posted 08-07-2018 12:18
    Edited by Annemarie Bean 08-10-2018 09:31
    Hi all,

    I've walked into a situation where the former (23-year serving) theatre teacher did not have the time or help to maintain the space. The school takes responsibility for the auditorium but oy, the stage, backstage, etc.

    I have some thought and for those who have the time and pity, I am already grateful for your responses.

    1. The stage floor is some sort of material that might be pressboard. It is not a dance floor, and it is not sprung. It has not been cleaned from scuff marks, dirt, etc. in maybe three years. The maintenance people are overburdened AND I am a great believe in theater students caring for their spaces. Getting one of those giant floor cleaners is not an option. I am thinking of getting those refillable mops that have washable pads at the bottom. What would be a good solution to use? I am not into having to spend a lot on the solution so if someone has a homemade solution that has worked well, send the instructions along.

    2. Once said cleaning of the floor has happened, does anyone have a no-shoes policy on stage? This is a multiuse space so I cannot enact the policy for everyone. I could do so for my classes and for rehearsal. Thoughts?

    3. Fire inspector has said all the curtains and cyc have to be taken down, cleaned and treated with flame retardant. I have a company who will do this. What I am thinking is to just eliminate the wing curtains completely. Once I do that there is nothing there on the sides. What is a reasonably cost-effective replacement? I'm hoping I can give instructions to a parent or two.

    Thank you so much for your help. I should say I have asked these questions of the head maintenance guy and he just does not have the time to help me solve these issues.


    Annemarie Bean
    Long Trail School
    Dorset VT

  • 2.  RE: Cleaning Stage Floor (shoes onstage?)/Removing Wing Curtains

    Posted 08-07-2018 14:42
    Edited by Annemarie Bean 08-08-2018 09:55
    Oh, dear. I am hoping my questions were not too inconsequential...

  • 3.  RE: Cleaning Stage Floor (shoes onstage?)/Removing Wing Curtains

    Posted 08-07-2018 15:08
    1. Our stage is often marked up (it's fairly heavily used), though ours is a plywood deck.  I'd test the material before cleaning the whole thing, but it sounds like it may be a masonite deck.  When we want to clean the deck, we sweep the whole thing with push brooms, and then mop.  We use regular mops, or possibly kitchen mops.  I would not use refillable or sponge mops, as we would go through quite a few even for one mopping, they don't get into the crevices, and they have small mop heads.  We do repaint the stage black, generally one-two times per year, before large event seasons to make it look extra nice.  We do this because it needs it, and it gives students the chance to have a floor treatment during our larger shows, if we so choose.

    2. Everyone must wear shoes at our school, because it is dangerous not to.  Some groups (usually dance) do not wear shoes, and the whole area must be extremely clean to do this safely.  Screws, staples, splinters, and broken glass have all been found onstage, and it would be terrible for someone to step on any of that it socks or barefooted.  There are also trip hazards, and without shoes, more people are likely to get injured for example by stubbing a toe.  If other people are using the space, they may leave things behind, or track things in that are not good to step on or accidentally kick.

    3. It sounds like you may also be due for a rigging inspection, if you have a rigging system.  You may look for the company name that originally installed the rigging, likely on a placard near the pin rail, or stitched onto the curtains, usually at the base.  They will also test the curtains for flame retardancy, which if they haven't been tested may appease the fire inspector.  If they're pushing 23 years, there's still a chance that they may be good, but the inspector is right, that they may be at the end of their life for flame retardant or in general.  I haven't met a theatre without wings in my time touring high school theatres.  It would of course depend on the size of the curtains needed, but this is something I would bring up with administration, and the other people that use the space.  You/the drama department shouldn't be responsible for replacing curtains in a multi-use space.  This is a capital expenditure that affects lots of users.

    For more insight into keeping a space that lots of people use, I'd recommend Elizabeth Rand's Theatre Management Course.  She covers topics like safety, sharing of the space, and administration.  This next one is her last one, starting on September 10.  I had my school pay for the cost out of my professional development/tuition dollars, and I'm very happy with the outcome.

    Also, most people get this as a daily digest, so they might not respond right away.

    Sydney Thiessen
    Fine & Performing Arts Coordinator and Technical Director
    Reynolds High School
    Troutdale OR

  • 4.  RE: Cleaning Stage Floor (shoes onstage?)/Removing Wing Curtains

    Posted 08-08-2018 09:01
    Sydney's response seems right on to me-- I thought I would just add-- we clean our floor with a simple 4 foot dust mop before each rehearsal, and we also repaint the floor from time to time.  As we're just re-dressing the floor, it doesn't take a lot of paint as it's just black on black and the same paint each time.  The other thing we do is to vacuum the off stage space from time to time as that is where a lot of the dust ends up.  Our floor is a classic tongue and groove wooden floor; however, we cover it with a temporary tempered hardboard floor from time to time and or use a ground cloth for painted treatments.  I've found that the temporary floor really saves the true floor from damage due to a bunged scene shift or a lost caster.  In terms of footwear, our after school troupe wears jazz shoes to rehearsals, while the rest of the population wears whatever.  I have not found footwear to seriously impact the floor too much, though.  One thing that does, however, is the legs of tables and chairs or the bottoms of rehearsal boxes, so we use those little felt furniture pads on the bottoms of our tables, chairs, and boxes-- that helps a lot and it's cheap.

    In terms of the masking set, it is a good idea to get the drapery inspected from time to time.  This might also help you justify it's replacement.  A lot of the newer drapes are inherently flame retardant as they are synthetic fabrics and a company like Rose Brand can help you a lot with these questions.

    I also would not remove the masking set.  Maybe just tie or wrap it up when not in use or cover them with some shop made muslin drawstring bags to keep paint, dirty hands and gum at bay.

    Hope that helps

    Michael Johnson
    Trinity NC

  • 5.  RE: Cleaning Stage Floor (shoes onstage?)/Removing Wing Curtains

    Posted 08-09-2018 13:13

    Great suggestions above for your dilemma. Related to great quality at affordable prices, we used NortheastStage. We had a similar issue with curtains and legs and outfitted the whole stage.

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 6.  RE: Cleaning Stage Floor (shoes onstage?)/Removing Wing Curtains

    Posted 08-10-2018 10:07
    Thank you all. I had the company who originally set up the entire theatre in 2001 come in again and put together an upgrade cost analysis. Even without curtains, it is running 34K for the basics. At least now I have the information I need for the immediate needs and the multi-year plan.

    Annemarie Bean
    Long Trail School
    Dorset VT

  • 7.  RE: Cleaning Stage Floor (shoes onstage?)/Removing Wing Curtains

    Posted 08-11-2018 11:44
    I never allow students to be barefoot on stage except for special circumstances. If the part in the play calls for it I allow it but only in a limited area and the actor must have shoes immediately off-stage to put on as soon as they go off. I have a large 24' X 24' carpet that I sometimes put down for floor work w/o shoes. There's too much on stage that can be harmful when students are barefoot.

    John Perry
    Retired Theatre Teacher