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New user
Ann Arbor, MI
90 Posts

Profile of JESmagic
I am trying to put together a portable backdrop and stage setup for an illusion show. I have been looking at lighting trusses, and was thinking that a lighting truss set-up might be a nice stage--albeit, larger to carry. My good friend owns a company that supplies hotels with furniture, curtains, etc--and can custom make the curtains. He also wanted to use it for trade shows for the business, and is willing to split the cost.

I want more than just a simple backdrop. I want a setup with a true "backstage" so I can wheel the illusions on on and off. I also want it to be able to handle some black art--i.e, if I want to use a base that has a black art principle. Does anyone have any other suggestions?
Jonathan Schweid, M.D.
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Regular user
165 Posts

Profile of styck13
American DJ has a Portable lighting rig called LTS-50t (or something like that) here's a pic. You could rig a curtain on spans somewhere in the neighborhood of 10feet wide. plus the extensions off the side.. A buddy of mine is building his backdrop off of something like this.. As his show grows he can put lighting on top of the "truss" It'll be a really cool system when he gets it done.
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Regular user
101 Posts

Profile of BaseballMagic
Mr. Schweid-
Are you looking to use this in an indoor environment, or more for outdoors? If you plan to use this outdoors (fairs, festivals) you may want to look into a trailer stage.
Here are some examples on
Scroll down to the eigth and sixteenth items.
If you are planning on using this in an outdoor environment, then I would recommend possibly buying things separate, for I am unaware of 'packaged' portable stages, including stage, sound, curtains, lights, etc.
Teen Magician Michael Platt
Live the Magic!
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New user
Ann Arbor, MI
90 Posts

Profile of JESmagic
I plan on using it both indoors and out. My idea is to create a (roughly) 10x10 ft. working area with lighting trusses. The curtains will be custom made by my friend's company and will be hung from the lighting trusses. This will allow for a performance area. The trusses are disassembled into 2-3 ft segments, and can fit in an ATA case. It's just an idea I had. I would love any other suggestions!
Jonathan Schweid, M.D.
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Loyal user
Los Angeles
267 Posts

Profile of socalmagic
I have a set-up similar to what you're talking about. It is a portable stage with a traveler curtain, truss, and backdrops. I actually use industrial pipe and drape and don't attach the drapery to the truss (I tried it and it takes a long time). It sets-up far quicker with pipe and drape, and then your drapery doesn't neccesarily have to be where your lights are.

I have a 16 x 20 stage. It is deeper than it is wide to allow for onstage back stage space. I have one truss at the back of the stage, and one truss five feet from the front of the stage with the traveler curtain attached. I have 10 pipe and drapes that telescope from 7-12 feet. This allows lots of flexibility for setting up. Beacause I do a lot of outdoor shows, I used the heavy 35 pound bases, and then place a 35 pound shotbag on top of the base to keep it from blowing over.

I have a video of my set-up at . It is a few years old, so it does not have the back truss, but everything is else is the same. I prefer this system over an all truss system because it is more flexible, and takes less time to set-up. I would reccomend trainagular or square aluminum trussing as opposed to the cheap truss sets by American DJ. I've bought those sets and they don't withstand the rigors of touring. By the way, this was not cheap. Traveler curtain was $4,000, stage $12,000, pipe and drape $1,500 plus lights, lifts, generator, electrical distribution, etc.

Brock Edwards
George Ledo
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Magic Café Columnist
SF Bay Area
2876 Posts

Profile of George Ledo
Since you're asking for suggestions...

Take a long look at your act, your persona, your style, and -- ultimately -- what the audience sees. Understand it. See it for what it is. Then, and only then, ask yourself what kind of an environment this guy would perform in.

Lighting trusses are fine, but they could be totally out of character for a lot of acts. I went through this many years ago with a backdrop and footlights, and never realized what the audience was seeing. You can read the details in my column on Magic as Theater: Spectacle, in the Buffet section here in the Café.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
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Inner circle
1958 Posts

Profile of kregg
Depending on how many gigs you book and the size of the venues - it might be better to rent elaborate back drops where/when needed, try to make that a requirement added to the price of the show. Several companies rent rigs and will set up and breakdown for you.
It is a good idea to by spiders or the like for the smaller more common venues.
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