18 October 2011

A "flying corset"

In the late 19th century... the West End master stage carpenter George Kirby began a business which specialised in flying effects on stage, organising the routines and supplying the equipment. This is one of the body harnesses that he developed for performers to wear. It was shaped like a corset, with leather straps attached and could be unobtrusively attached and detached from the flying wires during performance.

Kirby had worked with the German troupe, the Grigolatis, whose flying effects needed four stage hands to raise and traverse one performer. Kirby was convinced that his system could be less cumbersome and in 1889 developed the first pendulum flying system with quick-release mechanism. One of the earliest productions for which Kirby supplied equipment was Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie, at the Duke of York's Theatre which featured the Darling children flying with Peter from their London home to Never Never Land.
From the collections of the Victoria and Albert.

1 comment:

  1. And here I thought it was Victorian bondage gear - drat!


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