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