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Sinking House


In The Mummy's Claw by Mark Chandler, the house in which the action takes place sinks below ground in plain view of the audience. With no fly space, the Kent County Theatre Guild in Dover, DE used a painted backdrop on double rollers to accomplish this effect. The windows in the sinking room looked out onto an Egyptian landscape, which, out of view of the audience, was attached to rollers at the top and bottom. As the house sank, stage hands turned the rollers, pulling the landscape up onto the top roller. As the rollers continued to turn, the landscape scene gave way to a painting of earthen walls.

What the audience saw when the stagehands turned the crank: the landscape outside the windows rose up, giving the impression not that the landscape was rising, but that the house was sinking down through the ground. Accompanied by flickering lights, a huge rumbling noise, and appropriate movement from the actors on stage, the effect had audiences applauding wildly.


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