Before we blocked the counterbalance rappelling scene, I organized a “learn to rappel” session with a few of the cast and friends. Among the cast (and dir staff) that came were Dgonz (Corot), Miles (Kepler), Jen (hacksemble), Molly (hacksemble), Jonny (Ryan), Caroline (Piston), and Tauntaun (writer and choreo).
Here’s a picture of Jen’s first descent!
Since before auditions, I was thinking of organizing a session like this so that the actors who played Kepler and Corot could gain more experience doing ropework. By my rappelling luck, we ended up casting dgonz as Corot, who has a fair amount of experience rappelling (in fact he helped me instruct the session with Jonny), and Miles as Kepler, who is an amazing secret ninja and picked up on everything really quickly. By the end of the night, Dgonz and Miles attempted something beyond a usual intro to rappelling skill… a real counterbalance rappel!
For those of you unfamiliar with counterbalance rappelling (and who didn’t understand the explanation in the show), in a counterbalance rappel the anchor is set up such that the rope is not tied off to anything. Instead it’s wrapped around an object such that if you pull on one side of the rope, the rope comes off, but if you pull on both sides together the rope stays. [Quick aside: I’ve used this technique once in real life in a canyon to rappel off a giant sandstone archway. My counterbalance partner was Itaru (secondary writer and unofficial ropes technician)]
Miles was completely up for trying the counterbalance rappel and eventually convinced Dgonz to do it (which is ironically opposite of their characters in HPT). As they were descending, they sang “Counterbalance” which sounded incredibly beautiful echoing through the many stories of the staircase. Check out the video!
Double thanks to Dgonz and Jonny who helped me rig and instruct.
-Rachel Bowens-Rubin ’12ish (Co-Director and Writer)
Webmaster’s note: This was performed with permission from MIT’s EHS department and the manager of the building.