Safety curtain

From Academic Kids

A safety curtain is the main curtain used in proscenium arch-style theatre. It is raised and lowered (or drawn) to hide the action behind, usually the changing of scenery, or the actors taking their places on stage. Alternatively, the curtain can be used for dramatic effect to end a scene.

It is called a safety curtain because of health and safety regulations which say it must be able to withstand fire and thereby stop (or at least hinder) fires spreading from the front to the back of house in a theatre. To achieve its fireproofing, the curtain is extremely heavy and is therefore winched up and down in most establishments, a task which typically falls to the stage manager, although computerisation nowadays removes this necessity in modern large theatres.

The demise of traditional styles of theatre and of proscenium arch arrangements have meant the safety curtain is infrequently seen in modern staging. Even if it is available, it is often not used, with alternative stage techniques used to work around scene changes, because many feel it is reminiscent of a certain melodramatic style of theatre.

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