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Adorning The Wall Of Mainstage

When The Corn Exchange in Witney was closed for repairs, the Town Council were left with a dilemma. They urgently needed a venue with the staging facilities to host their calendar of events. Fortunately the smaller Langdale Hall was available as an alternative venue, despite lacking a permanent stage.

The contract to provide a demountable stage was put out to tender. Mainstage were contacted, and after fighting off fierce competition were awarded the contract to provide a staging solution using their Topdeck Cameo portable platforms. Witney considered that Cameo decks offered superior performance because they were easier to use, lighter in weight and ultimately more adaptable.

The need to provide temporary wings and demountable backdrops was met with the new Topdeck rapid draping system, and if you are sitting comfortably, we will take an historical diversion to explain the influence that led to the development of Topdeck Rapid.

The system harks back 450 years to a system illustrated by Pietre Breughal (the younger) in his painting Village kermis with theater and procession

A more English translation being “Fair with Theatrical performance”

A print of the picture hangs on the wall of Mainstage’s meetings room and is a favourite of MD Mike Sweetland as he first came across it as a Drama Student in Manchester in the 1970s

The original was painted in 1562. At the centre of the painting is one of the first recorded temporary stages. The action is taking place on a portable platform constructed with a few planks supported on barrels. An enthusiastic audience pack in around the stage, and even hang from nearby rooftops and out of adjacent windows. A temporary green room put together with a few drapes hanging from a framework of wooden staves appears to be accessed from the back of the stage using a ladder. Health & safety?