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Kent State Tuscarawas Students Utilize Rigging Skills at Ohio Museum

Posted Jan. 23, 2012
enter photo description
Kent State student Adam White put his
rigging knowledge to work at the Crawford
Auto Aviation Museum in Cleveland. White
gained extensive rigging experience working
as a stage hand for the Kent State Tuscarawas
Performing Arts Center.

Kent State University at Tuscarawas student workers, Jason Lucas of New Philadelphia and Adam White of Dennison, recently gained valuable professional experience at the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum in Cleveland.

Chosen for their rigging knowledge and extensive experience obtained working as stage hands for the Kent State Tuscarawas Performing Arts Center, Lucas and White had the extraordinary opportunity to be hired for a temporary job dismantling historically significant airplanes – one being a P-51 Mustang WWII fighter plane.

The job opportunity arose when Bill Auld, assistant professor of theatre, received a call from one of his professional colleagues, Russell Dusek of Reed Rigging of Chicago, Ill. Reed is the largest rigging company to design and create specialized rigging for live productions in the Midwest. Dusek had just been hired by Crawford Auto Aviation Museum to dismantle planes that would be moved to storage while areas of the museum underwent renovations. In order to complete the job, he looked to Auld for assistance with manpower.

"Museums are a great place for theatrical graduates to work," Auld says. "Basically, they use the same skills and the same equipment as theatres, such as trusses, chain motors and rigging."

According to Auld, working at the Kent State Tuscarawas Performing Arts Center gives the student workers practical experience for professional applications, such as the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum.

"The techniques we learned at the Performing Arts Center gave us the knowledge to perform the work for Reed Rigging," says Lucas, a computer technology major. "We used a truss and chain lift to lift the plane and then take it apart. The dismantled pieces were then wheeled out of the building. From there, a crane lifted the plane and parts to a flatbed truck where it was taken to storage."

While it was a paying job, Lucas had additional incentive for accepting the position. "I used to be in the Air Force, so to be able to work with a WW II fighter plane was the motivation to accept the job," he says. "It was a really good opportunity."

White, who is pursuing an Associate Degree of Arts, has been part of the Kent State Tuscarawas Performing Arts Center stage crew since it opened in November 2010. He also has valuable hands-on training from Auld's theatre classes - Intro to Scenery and Intro to Lighting, as well as a Theatre Practicum: Performer Rigging, which involves rigging human performers to fly for live performances.

"It was a unique experience. How do you pass it up?" White asks. "Not everyone gets to tear apart an airplane." He found the five-day experience in October a lot of fun and would work with Reed Rigging again.

Dusek had a positive experience working with Lucas and White. He was glad he hired them. "The Crawford project was a total success," Dusek says. "Adam and Jason worked out great! They're both hard workers and have good heads on their shoulders. I'd be happy to work with either of them again."