J C Sum

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The Only Kabuki Drop Book You Need

If you are a theatre or stage practitioner looking to add a strong piece of stagecraft to your shows or performances, this Kabuki Drop book is a must-have.

The “Ultimate Kabuki Drop Resource” is the definitive reference on the Kabuki Drop. It is the only resource of its kind in the world on Kabuki Drops.

The book has been categorized in WorldCat, the world’s largest library catalogue which is used extensively by most libraries in the world. The book will also be available to book wholesalers worldwide who will in turn supply it to libraries.

ultimate-kabuki-drop-resource-promo

Also detailed is a collection of six designs for simple manual curtain drop methods & designs that can be adapted to any theatrical performance or special event.

The systems explained include the “World’s Easiest” Drop, “The Peel” Drop, “The Pull” Drop, “Pin & Loop” Drop, “Pull Back” Drop and “Roll & Drop” Drop.

The book is beautifully printed in full colour and is available in 2 Formats:

•    Paperback Printed Book: US$34.90 + shipping
•    E-Book: US$24.90

You purchase the book at here.

Why Professional Kabuki Drop Systems Are So Expensive

If you have ever thought of including a Kabuki Drop for your show or event and done some research, you probably know that it is not a cheap investment, whether you buy or rent a system.

The benefits of buying a Kabuki Drop from a manufacturer is that you are investing in a professional system.

A professional system means it has been developed with expertise, research & development, prototyping, time and resources. You are generally guaranteed a better system than one you could build in a few days.

But, understandably, it comes with a higher price.

You will likely only buy a system if you are going to use the Kabuki Drop on a regular basis or have a venue that you would like to install the Kabuki Drop in as a permanent special effect fixture.

As always, the first step is to research what options are available to you. Professional systems can include manual and electronic Kabuki Drops.

Get some basic understanding of the different types of systems on the market and compare their pros & cons.

For example:

  • Some systems may be elaborate and can be controlled digitally through a DMX control board but require a long set-up time and are expensive.
  • Some systems are very basic but inexpensive.
  • Some systems may be lightweight and pack small while some systems require ATA cases to transport the equipment safely.
  • Some systems are very easy to set-up while some may require a bit more expertise and experience.
  • Be sure to select a system that suits your needs and not one that seems the most expensive or has the most features.

pro-magic-kabuki-drop-system-products

An alternative to an expensive Kabuki Drop system is to make your own DIY Kabuki Drop. You can also check out the Pro Magic Kabuki Drop System, a low-cost, light-weight and reliable Kabuki Drop system for stage and event practitioners.

It is a manual system so is a much smaller investment and is ideal for smaller venues, theatres, events and shows.

Check out details of the Pro Magic Kabuki Drop System at MagicKabukiDrop.com/shop

1

Ideas for Kabuki Drops in Shows and Events

Here are some different ideas for Kabuki Drops in shows and events. A Kabuki Drop is a stagecraft technique and a release system that drops an open suspended curtain to the floor for a dramatic reveal.

A curtain or drape is suspended and held open by a specially designed system that holds the cloth securely until it is needed to be released.

The system is generally attached to some kind of overhanging horizontal support structure like a flying bar or lighting truss. The trigger mechanism to release the cloth can be activated either manually or electronically.

Full Stage Kabuki Drop

Photo Credit: JC & Joel

The modern-day Kabuki Drop finds its roots in the historic Japanese dance-drama, Kabuki Theatre. Traditionally, a curtain drop was used as a stagecraft technique to reveal a change of a scene. This technique was known as “Furiotoshi”, which literally means, “shake down to reveal”.

A Kabuki Drop can add tremendous visuals and theatrical texture to any show or event.

Here are a collection of ideas on how to incorporate a curtain drop in a show or event:

Kabuki Drop as a Direct Reveal

The most obvious way to use the Kabuki Drop is as a direct reveal in a show or event.

It is often used in theatrical stage performances or special events to reveal a cast of performers, stage set or product.

You can also have a logo or brand identity, printed or silk-screened on the curtain; although most modern applications use video projection instead.

Large Kabuki Drops can even used to reveal a building facade as seen below:

Kabuki Drop Combined with a Video Projection/ Mapping

At the top of a show or event, a white curtain (cloth) hangs down and covers the front of the stage. An introductory teaser video is seen via projection on the curtain to introduce the show, event, product or performers. At the end of the video, the curtain drops for the reveal.

This is a great way to create a spectacular customized opening for a show or event.

Check out this video from a Volkswagen launch that demonstrates how a cool animation sequence can be integrated with a Kabuki Drop.

Here is an example of combing dance with video mapping/ animation for a reveal sequence for Volvo.

Silhouette Appearance Effect

This is a simple but very dramatic and visually appealing sequence you can incorporate with a Kabuki Drop.

This theatrical effect creates anticipation and suspense. It has been used for many theatrical shows such as the Blue Man Group and you can see how the band One Republic uses this concept to great effect for the opening of their show.

Here is an idea to create an even stronger visual “magical” effect to reveal a person or group of people.

A white Kabuki Drop curtain hangs in front of the stage. A single light is set on stage upstage (towards the back of the stage). It projects onto the back of the curtain so that the curtain is illuminated.

In sync with appropriate music, the person(s) literally walks slowly from behind the light, step over and walk forward downstage (towards the curtain). The audience will see the person(s)’s silhouette “magically” appear and grow larger.

The curtain drops and reveals the person(s).

This is a simple but very effective way to introduce a performer(s) or VIP.

Double Kabuki Drop to Set a Scene

One variation of the Kabuki Drop is the advent of the “Double Kabuki drop”. The traditional drop is a SINGLE Drop. That means the curtain will already be opened up in place and covering the stage. Activating the curtain drop will drop the curtain to the floor revealing what is on stage.

A DOUBLE Kabuki Drop means the curtain starts off rolled up and is held in place at the top of the stage proscenium (on the flying bars). Activating the curtain drop will open up the curtain so that it covers the stage. Activating the curtain drop a second time will drop the curtain to the floor revealing what is on stage.

A double drop can be activated either manually or electronically and ANY system can be adapted as a double drop.

The Double Kabuki Drop can be used as a cover device to set an illusion or change a stage set as a visual change from the traditional main or Austrian curtain.

This is also particularly useful for stages that do not have a main curtain that can be closed for set stages.

Double Kabuki Drop as a “Magic” Reveal

A double drop can be used to create an awesome “magicial” appearance, using the cloth as a cover.

Check out this video from illusionist, Brett Daniels’, old show. The effect in question is at the top of the video. Nuff said!

All-Round Kabuki Drop

For some shows or events, there is a need for an all-round or surrounded Kabuki Drop. This means the curtain covers all four sides of a reveal area or it can be circle or oval-shaped.

This is necessary if the audience is surrounding the reveal area such as an arena, shopping mall, open space or circus.

In this set-up, the Kabuki Drop system must be running in a series under and around a square, rectangular or round overhanging structure like a lighting truss.

The trigger mechanism must activate all drop points to drop all sides of the curtain at the same time. The curtain comprises of one large “circle” or material.

Kabuki Drop with a Sniffer

A kabuki drop with a lightweight cloth combined with a sniffer or motor-pull can create a beautiful reveal.

This means after the cloth is dropped, it does not drop to the ground but looks like it gets “sucked” up into the ceiling.

Have a look at two examples below:

Kabuki Glitter Drop

I actually came up with my first DIY Kabuki Drop for a friend in 1996 for his church event. It was a glitter drop where a bunch of confetti dropped from the top of the stage.

In this case, a curtain is not dropped to the ground for a reveal but is used as a holder for the glitter.

The Kabuki Drop is a cloth “hammock” that holds all the confetti. A Kabuki Drop system releases one long end of the cloth “hammock” that allows the confetti to drop to the stage floor.

The glitter drop can be used at the end of an event to create an even “snowfall” of confetti and can also be used as a holding device can also be used to drop other items like balloons, ping pong balls and anvils… ok, maybe not anvils.

Kabuki Drop as a Utility Cover for Magic Illusion Effects

For magic & illusion performances, magicians can use the Kabuki Curtain to cover a large illusion or finale set piece and reveal it when needed.

A double Kabuki Drop can also be used in conjunction with an illusion utility such as an illusion deceptive base or Black Art Table.

The first drop unrolls the curtain and is used as a cover. The second drop drops the curtain to the base or table to reveal the appearance or vanish.

This gives a nice remote-look to the cover device for the illusion, enhancing the visual look and magic-feel of the effect.

My “Shadow Appearance” illusion uses a self-contained cloth drop system and I have also invented a professional manual Kabuki Drop system that is mounted onto flying or lighting bars/ trussing.

Do you have any ideas to share? Leave a comment!

If you are a stage or theatre practitioner for shows or events, you might want to include the “Ultimate Kabuki Drop Resource” in your library.

Besides being the definitive resource on Kabuki Drops, the book includes six original designs for Kabuki Drops that are easy and inexpensive to build. There are different plans for different needs & venues with original ideas and design elements.

Available as a full-colour print book and an eBook here.

ultimate-kabuki-drop-resource-front-back

6

Learn How to Make Your Own Kabuki Drop

You can now learn how to make your own kabuki drop with our free Kabuki Drop building plan entitled “How to Make a $50 Kabuki Drop”.

make-own-diy-kabuki-drop
 

 
The simple manual curtain drop system can be made easily without a professional workshop or precision machining although you will need to cut, drill, saw and sew items that are readily available at good hardware stores.

This is an excellent solution if you are looking for an inexpensive and dependable curtain drop system that you can build yourself.

The free download comes with detailed instructions, measurements, drawings and materials list.

Fill in the form below to request for the FREE Kabuki Drop plan.

Getting Started with the Kabuki Drop Resource

MagicKabukiDrop.com was created to share information on all aspects of the Kabuki Drop for use in theatrical productions, plays, musicals, shows and special events.

If you are a theatrical stage practitioner (on or off stage), a Kabuki Drop can be used to add a dramatic wow-moment to your show or act. It is also a great device for product reveals for corporate events.

What is a Kabuki Drop?

A Kabuki Drop is a stagecraft technique and a release system that drops an open suspended curtain to the floor for a dramatic reveal.

It is often used in theatrical stage performances or special events to reveal a cast of performers, stage set or product.

Boeing_reveal_via_Kabuki_drop

Photo Credit: Boeing Co. (George Burns Photography)

A curtain or drape is suspended and held open by a specially designed system that holds the cloth securely until it is needed to be released.

The system is generally attached to some kind of overhanging horizontal support structure like a flying bar or lighting truss. The trigger mechanism to release the cloth can be activated either manually or electronically.

Modern Kabuki Drop

Photo Credit: Groove Events

The modern-day Kabuki Drop finds its roots in the historic Japanese dance-drama, Kabuki Theatre. Traditionally, a curtain drop was used as a stagecraft technique to reveal a change of a scene. This technique was known as “Furiotoshi”, which literally means, “shake down to reveal”.

In this comprehensive resource, we will explore the history, techniques, components, workings and systems of Kabuki Drops.

Content

  1. History of Kabuki Theatre
  2. Kabuki Stagecraft & Curtain Drop
  3. Evolution of the Kabuki Drop
  4. Basic Components of the Kabuki Drop
  5. Manual Kabuki Drop Systems
  6. Electronic Kabuki Drop Systems
    – Linear Solenoid Kabuki Drop Systems
    – Electromagnetic Lock Kabuki Drops
  7. Double Kabuki Drop System
  8. Ideas for Kabuki Drops
  9. Build, Buy or Rent Kabuki Drops
  10. References

 

Researched, compiled & written by J C Sum, Darren Tien & Adeline Ng

Disclaimer: This is a free resource site for educational purposes. To better illustrate points made in the articles, images have been used to accompany the information. Photo credits and links to the source material are given where applicable.

If you are a copyright holder for any of the images and do not want your image used in this resource site, please contact us at info(a)magickabukidrop.com and we will remove the image within 24 hours.

The authors accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries resulting from the fabrication or performance of any of the Kabuki Drop methods described in this website.

 

1

History of Kabuki Theatre

This article explores the brief history of Kabuki Theatre. Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama. It is often referred to as “the art of song and dance”. The word Kabuki is derived from the Japanese verb ‘Kabuku’, meaning out of the ordinary or bizarre.

This is the reason why the stylization of drama and the elaborate make-up worn by the performers belong characteristically to the Kabuki Theatre.

Kabuki actor2Photo Credit: “MAU: J-ASEAN Dance Collaboration” (The Jakarta Post)

The history of Kabuki extends for about 400 years, and it was pioneered during the Edo period, which is a period in Japanese history ranging between 1603-1868.

Its origin begun in Kyoto, where a shrine maiden, named Izumo no Okuni, would use the city’s dry Kamo Riverbed as a stage to perform unusual dances for passersby.

These onlookers would soon find her daring parodies of Buddhist prayers both entertaining and mesmerizing. Soon, other troops began emulating her, and this became Japan’s first dramatic performance form catered to the common people.

Slowly over the years, Kabuki evolved from street performances, to performances in theatre and teahouses.

By relying on heavily flamboyant makeup (or ‘keshou’), and facial expressions instead of masks, and focusing on historical events and everyday life rather than folk tales, Kabuki set itself apart from the upper-class dance theater form called “Noh”.

The unmistakable melodrama provided a unique commentary on society during the Edo period.

Till today, Kabuki still lives on as an integral part of Japan’s rich cultural heritage, extending its influence beyond the stage, to television, film and anime.

Kabuki Dance featuring Bando Kotji with live music at Japan SocietyPhoto Credit: Tokyo Times

 

Disclaimer: This is a free resource site for educational purposes. To better illustrate points made in the articles, images have been used to accompany the information. Photo credits and links to the source material are given where applicable.

If you are a copyright holder for any of the images and do not want your image used in this resource site, please contact us at info(a)magickabukidrop.com and we will remove the image within 24 hours.

The authors accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries resulting from the fabrication or performance of any of the Kabuki Drop methods described in this website.

 

2

Kabuki Stagecraft & Curtain Drop

Kabuki Stagecraft

The Kabuki theatre is well known for its use of various stage effects, due to its fondness for spectacle.  Its distinctive features include peculiar stage designs, midair performances (or “Chunori”), and its unconventional use of curtains (or “Maku”).

Kabuki theatre

Traditional Kabuki Theatre
Photo Credit: Shibai Ukie by Masanobu Okumura (1686-1764)

Modern Kabuki Theatre

Modern Kabuki Theatre
Photo Credit: Kanamaruza Theater (Japan Guide)

The characteristic feature of the Kabuki stage design includes the “hanamichi”, a raised passageway leading from the left side of the stage, through the audience, to the back of the theatre (used to highlight entrances and exits of actors).

Trap doors and lifts (or “seri”) were incorporated in Kabuki, both for changes of scene and for surprise entrances and exits. The revolving stage (or “mawari butai”), is also sometimes used to produce a scenery-change effect, much akin to the fade-out and fade-in of film techniques. 

Kabuki Drop Theatre Stage

Kabuki Theatre Layout
Image Credit: Invitation to Kabuki, Japan Arts Council

Kabuki Theatre Trapdoor

Kabuki Theatre Trapdoor
Photo Credit: Jikabuki Project 

Traditional Kabuki Drop

The use of curtains is a very important stagecraft technique used in Kabuki theatre.

Kabuki Theatre

Photo Credit: Kabuki-za Theatre

In traditional Kabuki theatre, special curtains, such as the “dandaramaku” (a large curtain with wide red and white horizontal stripes used as a temporary background), or more commonly the “asagimaku” (a pale blue curtain used for entrances), are used for the Kabuki drop to achieve different dramatic stage effects.

The “asagimaku” is often used, because its monotone, singular pale blue color can effectively juxtapose with the new scene’s flamboyant colors, to amplify the transition.

There are various types of curtains being employed in a typical Kabuki theatre and each has distinct uses to create different theatrical and dramatic effects:

  • Stage-set curtains (or “Dogumaku”) are scenery curtains, where actual scenery such as mountain, waves, and wall are painted on.
  • Mist curtains (or “Kasumimaku”) are used to hide musicians on stage when they are not performing.
  • Pale blue curtains (or “Asagimaku”) are notably used for “Furiotoshi”, which is the effect we now know as the “Kabuki Drop”.

Check out the video below to see a couple of uses of curtains in a traditional Kabuki theatre performance:

The drawing of the main curtain can be seen at the 4.32min mark and the Kabuki Drop can be seen at the 5.30min mark.

“Furiotoshi” was first introduced to the Kabuki theatre in the late 18th century, as sophistication of the scenic effects on stage advanced steadily over the years.

Furiotoshi

Traditional Kabuki Drop
Photo Credit: Invitation to Kabuki (Japan Arts Council)

“Furiotoshi” is the dramatic technique of making the stage instantly visible by dropping the curtain previously hung to conceal stage. Whisked down to the accompaniment of the clapping of the wooden “ki” (two wooden clappers), “Furiotoshi” allows for sudden scene changes, while “geza” music is used to maintain the audience’s tension.

“FURIOTOSHI” = KABUKI DROP

The “Furiotoshi” was constructed using a “Furidake”. A “Furidake” is simply a bamboo pole with small prongs or pegs attached to it at regular intervals. These pegs act as “drop points” for the Kabuki curtain (or “maku”). The pole is suspended, using rope over the stage, parallel to the stage front.

The pole is rotated and held in place so that the pegs point upwards. The curtain is hung on these pegs via curtain loops so that it covers the stage.

Bamboo Kabuki Front View

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

During the play, a rope attached to one of the end pegs is pulled by a “kurogo” (a ‘black boy’ or ‘black clothing’ stage assistant dressed and hooded in black). A “kurogo” goal is to be “invisible” and as inconspicuous as possible, who helps Kabuki actors, and carry out various stage duties.

This rotates the pole forward, resulting in the curtain loops slipping off the pegs and allowing the curtain to fall to the floor.

Bamboo Kabuki Side View

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

The “asagimaku” is thereafter swept away by stage assistants, and the effect is much like a quick cut in a movie, foreshadowing the taking place of a powerful scene.

Conversely, when the stage is visible and the curtain is dropped from the ceiling to instantly conceal the stage, the dramatic technique is called “Furikabuse” (shake down to conceal).

 

Disclaimer: This is a free resource site for educational purposes. To better illustrate points made in the articles, images have been used to accompany the information. Photo credits and links to the source material are given where applicable.

If you are a copyright holder for any of the images and do not want your image used in this resource site, please contact us at info(a)magickabukidrop.com and we will remove the image within 24 hours.

The authors accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries resulting from the fabrication or performance of any of the Kabuki Drop methods described in this website.

 

1

Evolution of the Kabuki Drop

Traditionally, the Kabuki drop was used in the context of the historic Japanese dance-drama, Kabuki Theatre. It was formerly called “Furiotoshi”, which literally means, “shake down to reveal”.

Over the years, this technique has been retained in modern theatre to change a scene in an instant or to execute a theatrical reveal.

With its adoption in western theatre name, the “Furiotoshi” technique has since been simply referred to as the “Kabuki Drop” within the theatre and event industry.
Furiotoshi

Traditional Kabuki Drop
Photo Credit: Invitation to Kabuki (Japan Arts Council)

Full Stage Kabuki Drop

Photo Credit: JC & Joel

Manual Kabuki Drop

The classical method of the curtain drop involved manual labor, where stage crew members released the curtain manually by way of a pull cord or using a pole that caused the curtain to drop to the floor.

Over time, there have been improvements to the manual curtain drop. There have been improvements in design and construction methods with modern materials, making it easier to build and be more reliable.

Electronic Kabuki Drop

Modern advancements in the curtain drop include the use of electronically powered magnetic systems called ‘solenoids’. These electronic systems trigger the drop of the cloth electronically by activating a lever, spring-loaded pin or electro-magnet, depending on the specific design of the system.

Pneumatic Kabuki Drop

A variety of the modern Kabuki Drop is the Pneumatic Kabuki Drop. The Pneumatic Kabuki Drop system is an electro-mechanical system that uses compressed gas (from a pneumatic air tank) to trigger the drop. When triggered, a switch converts an electric current to air current. The air current activates a pneumatic cylinder with a pin, effecting the curtain drop.

In concept and methodology, a pneumatic system works almost identically to an electronic (linear solenoid) drop system.

This resource will not explore pneumatic systems but you can explore the following references.

 

Double Kabuki Drop

One variation of the Kabuki Drop is the advent of the “Double Kabuki drop”. The traditional drop is a SINGLE Drop. That means the curtain will already be opened up in place and covering the stage. Activating the curtain drop will drop the curtain to the floor revealing what is on stage.

A DOUBLE kabuki drop means the curtain starts off rolled up and is held in place at the top of the stage proscenium (on the flying bars). Activating the curtain drop will open up the curtain so that it covers the stage. Activating the curtain drop a second time will drop the curtain to the floor revealing what is on stage.

A double drop can be activated either manually or electronically and ANY system can be adapted as a double drop.

 

Disclaimer: This is a free resource site for educational purposes. To better illustrate points made in the articles, images have been used to accompany the information. Photo credits and links to the source material are given where applicable.

If you are a copyright holder for any of the images and do not want your image used in this resource site, please contact us at info(a)magickabukidrop.com and we will remove the image within 24 hours.

The authors accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries resulting from the fabrication or performance of any of the Kabuki Drop methods described in this website.

2

Basic Components of the Kabuki Drop

There are four basic components of a Kabuki Drop system:

FLYING BAR

The flying bar is the horizontal support structure or bar that the Kabuki Drop system with curtain is hung from.

In a theatre, you would “fly” the Kabuki Drop system from the flying bars.

Kabuki Drop Flybar

Flying bar lowered in theatre for rigging
Photo Credit: Screen Change

For events, you might use the rigging points in a venue or lighting truss that has been set up.

Kabuki Drop Light Truss

Photo Credit: Salisbury University

You could also use a makeshift horizontal support such as running a horizontal lighting truss or pole between two lighting stands.

Lighting Stand Kabuki Drop

Regardless of the flying bar used, it is important that the support is rated or endorsed to take the weight required for the Kabuki Drop.

CURTAIN

The perfect Kabuki fabric is one that is lightweight, durable and inherently flame retardant. IFR (inherently flame retardant) polyesters that can be sewn with minimal seams are the choice of the industry. Lightweight cloth is favored, to deliver a billowy effect.

Kabuki Drop CurtainPhoto Credit: Rose Brand

Different fabric materials and thicknesses are used to create different effects for the Kabuki Drop. For example, opaque, translucent or transparent fabrics all create different visual effects under stage lighting, video projection and daylight.

Curtain Preparation

There are several ways to prepare the curtain for Kabuki Drops

Option 1: Grommets

The most common way to prepare the curtain is to fit it grommets.

“A grommet is a ring or edge strip inserted into a hole through thin material, typically a sheet of textile fabric, sheet metal and or composite of carbon fiber, wood or honeycomb. Grommets are generally flared or collared on each side to keep them in place, and are often made of metal, plastic, or rubber.

They may be used to prevent tearing or abrasion of the pierced material or protection from abrasion of the insulation on the wire, cable, line being routed through the penetration, and to cover sharp edges of the piercing, or all of the above.” Wikipedia.

Grommets used for Kabuki Drops are always made of metal.

Grommets-silver

To prepare to fit the grommets, first fold the edge of the cloth over to make a wide hem.

You can purchase a grommet kit from a general hardware store, haberdashery shop or curtain maker. Just follow the instructions that come with the kit to attach the grommets. Or, you can learn how to attach grommets to the curtain here.

Kabuki Drop Grommet Kit

Attach the grommets to either corner of the top of the curtain and the rest are spaced about 12” from each other, or wider depending on the number of drop points you intend to use.

Grommeted Curtain

Option 2: Header with Grommets

Instead of directly fitting the top edge of the curtain with grommets, a more sophisticated design is to make a header for the top of the cloth. The header runs the entire width of the cloth.

The header is made from 3” nylon webbing. The bottom 1” has a length of Velcro (loop side) sewn onto the entire length of the header.

31Au3sFDYIL

1” Grommets are attached to the top 2” of the header, evenly spaced apart.

With this method, a corresponding length of 1” Velcro (hook side) is sewn across the entire top edge of the curtain. The curtain is attached to the header via the Velcro strips and the header is attached to the Kabuki drop point or mechanism.

Header

Curtain with Header

Note:

In the traditional “rolling pole” method, the grommets are directly placed over the drop points (“pegs”) to hold up the curtain.

However, in most Kabuki Drop systems that use grommets, an additional attachment is required to connect the curtain to the drop point system.

There are several hardware component options available:

Split Ring

Split Ring

This is a large steel key ring that is allows you slide a loop-shaped object onto it. Typically, a 1.5” stainless steel split ring is used for Kabuki Drops. This is slipped through the grommets and then attached the Kabuki drop point or mechanism.

Carabiner

carabiner

Also known as a Spring Hook, this piece of hardware is metal loop with a spring-loaded gate. This hooks you to “lock” the carabiner onto the grommet and also attaches to the Kabuki drop point or mechanism.

Shackle

shackles

Also known as a “gyve”, this is a U-shaped piece of metal secured with a clevis pin or bolt across the opening, or a hinged metal loop secured with a quick-release locking pin mechanism.

The bolt of the shackle is threaded through the grommet and the shackle is “locked” into place. The U-shaped part is attached to the Kabuki drop point or mechanism.

Heavy-duty Cable Ties

Kabuki Drop Cable Tie

Cable ties are an easy solution and are lightweight. Be sure to use cable ties that are at least 10mm wide to ensure they can hold the weight of the curtain.

Other Attachments

J&C Joel Curtain Accesories

Image Credit: J&C Joel

Check out a variety of other curtain attachments available from manufacturers such as J&C Joel.

Option 3: D-Rings with Velcro Straps

This method of preparing the curtain does use any grommets but uses Velcro instead.

A strip of hook-side 2” Velcro (the hard side) is sewn on each top edge of the curtain; i.e. one strip each on the front and back. The Velcro is sewn across the width of the curtain.

The attachment to connect the curtain to the drop point has to be custom made. Each attachments is made from a single 2”-wide strip of loop-side (the soft side) Velcro.

The reason for using the loop side of the Velcro is because this side wears out over time and needs to be replaced. It is much easier to replace when it is not sewn down onto the curtain.

This single strip of loop-side 2” Velcro (5” long) is looped through the straight end of a 2” D-Ring, folded over and sewn tightly together just under the D-Ring. This creates a “Velcro clip”, where the two ends of the Velcro act as the tabs of the “clip”.

Kabuki Drop D-ring

D Link Kabuki Drop Front View

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop
D Link Kabuki Drop Side View

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

This allows the Velcro tabs to be “clipped” onto the top of the Kabuki curtain. The Velcro tabs attach to the corresponding Velcro strips sewn across the width of the curtain. (Think of the two flaps of Velcro on the D-Rings as breads and the top of the curtain as the filling – the curtain being sandwiched in the middle of the two flaps).

The D link is then attached to the Kabuki drop point or mechanism.

The use of Velcro allows for ease adjustments. This is so that there is flexibility in terms of shifting of the rigging points, assuming different set-ups for the Kabuki Drop is used for the same particular curtain.

Option 4: Curtain Clip or Clamp Attachments

Most Kabuki Drop systems, whether manual or electronic, require the curtain to be prepared with grommets, Velcro and/ or other attachments.

However, there are a few manufacturers that have developed fabric clamp accessories so that the curtain does not need any preparation or grommets.

This is especially useful if you are using a specific delicate fabric that you do not want to puncture holes in. The clamp system also allows for easy adjustment without the need to line up drop points and curtain attachments perfectly during set-up.

Manufacturers of these fabric clamps include Gerriets, Drape Kings and MagicFX.

Kabuki Curtain Clamps

Photo Credit: Gerriets (left)/ MagicFX (right)

DROP POINTS

The drop points refer to the devices or connections that attached the curtain to the flying bar and release the curtain when needed.

For manual systems, the drop points can be a rolling pole with pegs, Velcro attachments, pins and loops or pins and sleeve.

See “Manual Kabuki Drop Systems” for more details.

Kabuki Drop Drape KingsPhoto Credit: Drape Kings

For electronic systems, the drop points can be linear solenoids, electromagnet locks, gate catch release systems, catches, hooks, clips and pins.

See “Electronic Kabuki Drop Systems” for more details.

TRIGGER MECHANISM

All manual systems are activated by some kind of wire cable or rope that releases the cloth from the drop points. In this case, a human or trained monkey manually pulls the trigger.

See “Manual Kabuki Drop Systems” for more details.

Kabuki Drop Trigger

Photo Credit: Gerriets

All electronic systems use some kind of switch to allow an electric current to activate the drop point mechanism.

The electronic Kabuki Drop can also be hooked up to a DMX control panel or other split connectors. DMX or DMX512 (Digital Multiplex) is a standard for digital communication networks that are commonly used to control stage lighting and effects.

Kabuki Drop DMX

See “Electronic Kabuki Drop Systems” for more details.

 

Disclaimer: This is a free resource site for educational purposes. To better illustrate points made in the articles, images have been used to accompany the information. Photo credits and links to the source material are given where applicable.

If you are a copyright holder for any of the images and do not want your image used in this resource site, please contact us at info(a)magickabukidrop.com and we will remove the image within 24 hours.

The authors accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries resulting from the fabrication or performance of any of the Kabuki Drop methods described in this website.

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Manual Kabuki Drop Systems

There are several ways to build a manual Kabuki Drop, each with a different set-up and system. However, all manual systems are activated by some kind of wire cable or rope that releases the cloth from the drop points. In this case, a human manually pulls the trigger.

The benefits of manual Kabuki Drops are that they are generally reliable with fewer points of failure if set up is done correctly. They are also inexpensive compared to electronic systems. Depending on the system, the materials used to build the Kabuki Drop and the width of the curtain drop, it can cost as little as $50 to put together (excluding the cost of the curtain). A professionally-made manual system will generally cost below $500 (depending on the width of the curtain drop).

While some people like the tactile activation of the curtain drop, some prefer a more technology-based system that electronic systems offer. Manual Kabuki Drops also cannot be triggered remotely. The trigger mechanism (pull cord) must be next to or behind the stage, otherwise the running of pull cables at different angles and for long distances can complicate the system unnecessarily.

This article outlines four methods for manual Kabuki Drops.

It would be best to first be familiar with the Basic Components of the Kabuki Drop to better understand the systems explored below.

“Shake & Drop” Kabuki Drop or “Rolling Pole” Kabuki Drop

At the heart of this method, it is essentially the same concept as the traditional Kabuki Drop system using the rotating bamboo pole as described HERE.

The curtain is held up by a pole that has pegs attached to it. The pole is suspended on the flying bars by ropes in such a way that it can freely rotate. When the pole rotates forward curtain slips off the pegs and onto the floor to effect the Kabuki Drop.

Bamboo Kabuki Side View

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

Updated versions make use of modern materials as well as hardware components not available in the past.

Instead of using bamboo poles with prongs attached to it, you can make a “rolling pole” with 1.5” aluminum or stainless steel round tubing. The drop points (pegs or prongs) can be welded onto the round tubing or bolts can be threaded through the round tubing and secured in place with nuts.

Pipe-holding brackets, available at good hardware stores, can be used to hold the round tubing in place but provide a loose fit so that the round tubing can freely rotate within the brackets. The pipe-holding brackets can be secured to the flying bar in a variety of ways depending on the design of the specific bracket you use.

Kabuki Drop Pipe Bracket 2 Kabuki Drop Pipe Bracket
Examples of Pipe Holding Brackets

The trigger mechanism can be built using a latch that holds the pole at a specific angle so that the drop points are facing up. Upon release, gravity causes the pole to rotate forward, allowing the curtain to slip off the drop points and drop to the ground.

 Kabuki Drop Spring Gate LatchKabuki Drop Eyebolt Catch
Examples of Spring Latches

An example of a trigger mechanism using a spring-loaded latch can be viewed in the video below. It was shared by user “cforand” in the Control Booth forum who also provided a PDF for an updated design HERE (although updated with an electronic trigger)

A spring-loaded gate latch is used as the connection point and is released by a pull cord that runs behind the flying bars to the back of the stage.

An alternative design (with more details and measurements) for this method is detailed in “DIY Kabuki Drops”. It features a simplified spring-loaded trigger mechanism and the pull rope runs off to the side of the stage instead of behind it


 

“Poor Man’s” Kabuki Drop

Also called a “Tearaway”, the “Poor Man’s” Kabuki Drop is predominantly used for budget-conscious users. However, this curtain drop might also just be all you need in certain situations. Sometimes, you do not need a complicated system if a simple one will suffice.

The “Poor Man’s” Kabuki Drop uses Velcro as the main attachment to the flying bar. To “drop” the curtain, the curtain is manually pulled away from the Velcro when needed.

The general rule of thumb for the “Poor Man’s” Kabuki Drop is that it is not used for dramatic reveals, but more as a masking piece. However, with creativity, it is possible to create a visually-pleasing reveal with talent onstage performers and choreography.

The “Poor Man’s Kabuki Drop can be made in the following way:

Sew a non-adhesive Velcro strip across the entire top edge of the curtain. It is important to sew the hook side (hard side) of the Velcro onto the curtain instead of the loop side (soft side). The reason is that the loop side of the Velcro wears out over time and needs to be replaced. It is much easier to replace when it is not sewn down onto the curtain which is delicate.

The curtain will be attached to a header that will be secured to the flying bar.

The header is made from 3” nylon webbing and runs the entire width of the cloth. The bottom 1” has a length of Velcro sewn onto the entire length of the header. 1” Grommets are attached to the top 2” of the header, evenly spaced apart.

Curtain with Header

With this method, the curtain is attached to the header via the Velcro strips and the header is then secured to the flying bar using cable ties threaded through the grommets.

See Basic Components of the Kabuki Drop for a comprehensive view of the curtain preparation, header and grommets.

“Pins & Loops” Kabuki Drop

This is another relatively simple manual Kabuki Drop system that can be built with items that can bought from a good hardware store.

Kabuki Drop Pins and Loops

Photo Credit: David Buckley (As posted in the Blue Room forum)

It is called the “Pins & Loops” Kabuki Drop because the system uses a pin and two loops for each drop point.

In this system, the drop points are mounted on a wooden backboard that is secured to the flying bar with clamps or cable ties. Each drop point is made up of two eye screws.

The curtain is prepared with split rings on the grommets. Each split ring is placed between each pair of screw eyes and a pin is placed through the split ring and screw eyes. This holds up the curtain on the backboard.

A pull cord is attached to all the pins and when pulled, causes all the pins to be pulled free from the screw eyes. This releases the split rings and allows the curtain to drop to the floor.

Kabuki Drop Pins & Loops

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

Kabuki Drop Pins & Loops 2

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

The pull cord is threaded through additional screw eyes attached to the backboard so that the pins and cord do not fall to the floor when it is pulled.

Design plans with measurements of this system are detailed in the book “Ultimate Kabuki Drop Resource: Includes 6 DIY Kabuki Drop Design Plans”.

ultimate-kabuki-drop-resource-side-bar

“Pins & Sleeve” Kabuki Drop

This method is similar to the “Pins & Loops” Kabuki Drop except the pins are permanently attached to a central main shaft.

The main shaft is made from metal round tubing or rod and the pins are bent metal rods cut to size and welded in a straight line onto the main shaft.

The main shaft with pins sit in a “sleeve” or housing such as a larger metal or PVC round tubing. There are short narrow slots in the base of the housing, just large enough for the pins to extend out of the housing. The main shaft remains sitting in the housing. The slots are also just long enough for the pins to move back a couple of inches.

The curtain is prepared with split rings on the grommets. Each split ring is placed onto each pin extending under the housing.

When the pull cord is pulled, the main shaft moves back. The pins that extend out of slots in the house will also move back with the main shaft. This causes the split rings on the grommets/ curtain to fall off the pins, allowing the curtain to fall to the floor

Magicians will recognize that this system is similar to Al Koran’s pencil gimmick used in his Himber Ring routine.

Kabuki Drop Pins & Sleeve

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

Check out this website for instructions to build a DIY “Pins & Sleeve” Kabuki Drop by John Fromarran HERE.

Kabuki Drop Pins Sleeve

Photo Credit: John Fromarran

 

Disclaimer: This is a free resource site for educational purposes. To better illustrate points made in the articles, images have been used to accompany the information. Photo credits and links to the source material are given where applicable.

If you are a copyright holder for any of the images and do not want your image used in this resource site, please contact us at info(a)magickabukidrop.com and we will remove the image within 24 hours.
The authors accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries resulting from the fabrication or performance of any of the Kabuki Drop methods described in this website.