At the wave of an actor's hand, first
the fire in the fireplace blazes into life, then the candles in sconces
on the stage left wall flare up and remain lit. Pictured are David
Wharff, SR, and Chris Polo of the Kent County Theatre Guild,
playing with fire in a tech rehearsal.
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This one was a lot of fun to play with. The idea was to have real
candles light when an actor waves at them. In a small theater like
ours, light bulbs just weren't going to cut it.
After some experimentation, our effects guy at the Kent County Theatre
Guild, Claude Warnick, came up with a perfect solution. He took the
heating elements out of an old hair dryer and attached them to the
candles near the wick. Prior to each performance, we "charged" the
elements with a match head. The heating element would ignite the match
head, creating a beautiful flare, and the match head would then light
the candle wick. Voila!
Some of our initial experiments were done using model rocket engine
igniters, but we didn't have a whole lot of luck with those. Strands
of steel wool seemed to work, but they tended to burn through and
we didn't want to have to rebuild the candles every night.
If you've used this method, or something similar, please let us know.