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Basic Counterweight Rigging for the Theatre

  • Children's Theatre Company 2400 3rd Avenue South Minneapolis, MN, 55404 United States (map)

A TWO DAY WORKSHOP: Friday, August 10th, 3pm - 7pm and Saturday, August 11th, 8:30am - 12:30pm

Stage Rigging. From the smallest of the pop-up storefront theatres to the largest arenas in the world, people in the arts are always hanging things, making things fly or just generally lifting and lowering things.

However spectacular rigging can make things looks, improperly done rigging can result in catastrophe: you are, after all, lifting heavy objects above people’s heads!

Fortunately, the core knowledge behind basic theatrical stage rigging are fairly easy to learn, and in this workshop our experienced instructors will aim to help you do just that!

This specific rigging workshop is aimed at people who have a some prior exposure to stagecraft and want to gain some detailed and practical knowledge on working with a counterweight system.

The use of counterweight systems are extremely common, and these skills form the core basis of what a stage rigger working in theatre would need to know and do. Thus, they are in high demand.

This practical workshop will walk you through:

  • The parts of a counterweight system.

  • How to calculate loads and forces.

  • How to select materials for rigging.

  • How to troubleshoot common rigging problems.

  • How to prepare for, and rig, some frequently rigged things.

  • How to operate a counterweight system.

  • How to be safe throughout all of it.

Above all else, the emphasis of this workshop is to equip you to be able to work with a counterweight system safely, and to know when you should be asking questions or when something isn’t safe - even if you yourself don’t know the correct approach.

This is a basic level class, but we are assuming you already know the following:

  1. Basic stage directions (Upstage, Downstage, Stage Left, Stage Right) and how to follow them.

  2. How to tie a clove hitch. Link to a video here:

  3. How to tie a bowline. Link to a video here:

Additionally, you will need to be comfortable working at heights (up to 60’) and climbing and working on an A-frame ladder.

Please dress safely and appropriately for this kind of work: wear closed-toed, comfortable shoes or work boots. Your clothes will likely get dirty, and you will spend some time kneeling while you work. Safety gear (safety glasses, hearing protection, work gloves, knee pads) will be provided, but if you have ANSI-rated equipment of your own that you prefer, feel free to bring it.


Children’s Theatre Company Scene Shop and Mainstage
2400 3rd Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

This is a TWO DAY Workshop:
Friday August 10th 3pm - 7pm; light snacks provided
Saturday August 11th 8:30am - 12:30pm; light snacks provided

Adriane Heflin, Technical Director at Children’s Theatre Company
Nate Saul, Stage Rigger and Scenic Carpenter

Price: $100

Normally approximately a $300 cost, we are able to offer this at a $200 reduction or 66% savings thanks to the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council,from the legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and from the generous support of the Children’s Theatre Company.

Scholarships exist! If you need a scholarship, please contact us at

In general, our scholarships offer 50% off in exchange for coming an hour early and staying an hour late to help set up and clean up.

That said, it is important to us that people are able to afford our workshops. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any concerns or questions.