The Rigging Department is a part of the Carpentry Department. Generally speaking, riggers are carpenter who specialize in installing and running fly systems, be they rope, counterweight systems, or motorized systems of various types. The "riggers" who operate rope and counterweight systems are usually called "flymen", and are considered part of the Carpentry running crew on a show call. When the term "riggers" is used as a job description, it usually refers to those who install rigging systems, either permanent or more often temporary systems, like the chain hoist and truss systems used for concerts and road shows.
"Riggers" are further divided into "Up-riggers" and "Down-riggers". Up-riggers, as the name implies, work in the air, in the roof structure of an arena or concert stage, or on the grid of a theatre. Down-riggers work on the floor, assembling gear and then sending it up to the up-riggers on ropes. Both positions are areas of great responsibility, requiring training and a thorough understanding of rigging principles, structural engineering, and the specifics of our venues' capabilities. A Master Rigger must be able to evaluate a proposed load, determine if the support structure can handle it safely, back up that determination, and then be willing to refuse to install a rig if it cannot be done safely, even under pressure from venue, promoter, road crew, peers, etc.
For these reasons, Riggers are often treated as an almost separate department, with separate calls and pay scales. Requirements to be a rigger are different than other "departments" in Local 470. Unlike the General Stagehand and Wardrobe areas, rigging MUST be learned on-the-job under journeyman riggers, and riggers must demonstrate on-the-job competence before being admitted as Rigger Members. Stagehands desiring placement on the riggers call list would be required to serve as uprigger on eight major truss rigging events (i.e. not theatre grid rigs). Rigger seniority is based on the date the eighth qualifying rig is completed. Most riggers become Stagehands before adding rigging as a specialty, but occasionally a member is admitted as a "Rigger" member after demonstrating on-the-job skills as a Rigger and passing the Basic Knowledge portions of the Journeyman Stagehand written test. Adopted Oct. 1995.
Some basic knowledge of rigging practices can be acquired before working on a show as a beginning rigger. To that end, Local 470 has several resources available below.