This means that not only the actors have to travel a lot, but also the complete set is carried from one place to another. Several trucks are used to bring all the necessary equipment – such as curtains, backgrounds, lights, sound systems, and all the other things that make every show unique.

As most of the things that are used need to be hung, a special system is used to make it possible to lift and lower all the props before, during and after the show.

Most theatres, says Dieben, use between 40 and 80 so called “trekken” to attach all the equipment to. A “trek” is a steel pipe or a ladder truss in a length of 15 to 20m depending on the width of the stage. “This pipe is hung on five to eight steel wires and these wires run over several sheaves to a drum where all the wires coming from the same pipe are joined,” says Dieben.

In the old days, he recalls, the trek was moved by man power, by pulling a rope which would set the drum in motion. When a piece of equipment suspended was too heavy, it was possible to counter-balance it with weights varying from 6 to 15kg making it possible to lift and lower several hundreds of kilo’s by hand.

This meant that every theatre had to have several tonnes of counterweight in stock when a big show with heavy set dressing was playing in their town.

Almost a decade ago the Dutch labour act was changed in this field and states now that it is forbidden to operate a “trekkenwand” manually.

Dutch firm Trekwerk, which originally specialised in lighting systems, jumped into this niche and developed a complete system that took over the manpower by using a special electrical winch.

The complete system was developed by the firm, which makes it, according to Dieben, the only player in the market which can install a complete system from winch to software and from steelwork to the server used for controlling it.

All the “trekken” have a SWL of 500kg “and in the entertainment industry the safety factor is twice that which we see elsewhere in the industry,” says Dieben.

This means that everything needs to be absolutely reliable, he adds. After all, there are lifting operations going on while people play their part in the show directly underneath. Safety circuits need to be double as well as the brakes on the hoist.

Speeds of almost 2m per second can be reached “making almost no sound,” says Dieben. Spectators in the audience should not be disturbed by gearbox noise or brakes releasing from the winches parked just under the roof of the stage towers. Specially designed plastic sheaves are used to minimise all noise when the 6 to 8km of steel ropes move to raise or lower an attribute.