Build, Buy or Rent Kabuki Drop Systems

If you require a Kabuki Drop for your next show, production or special event, you essentially have three options:

  1. Build a System
  2. Buy a System
  3. Rent a System

The option you choose depends on your needs, constraints and preference.

If you are producing a multi-million dollar touring concert, you should go with a high-end professional system that is supported with an experienced team.

However, there are many smaller events and shows that do not require or have the budget for professional systems with a team. In which case, a DIY solution or renting a system for a one-off event may be a better option.

kabuki-1-840x560Photo Credit: BPM-SFX


The choice of building, buying or renting the Kabuki Drop depends on a variety of determining factors. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • How large is the Kabuki Drop?
  • What sort of fabric is used for the curtain?
  • How many times will the Kabuki Drop be used?
  • Is there ample time to set up and test the Kabuki Drop at the venue?
  • Is the Kabuki Drop going to be used at a fixed location or as part of a touring show that needs to be set-up/ tore down frequently?
  • Do you have the manpower required to set up/ tear down and activate the Kabuki Drop?
  • How significant is the role that the Kabuki Drop plays in your show, production or event?
  • How much time do you have before you need the Kabuki Drop for your show, production or event?
  • Do you have the skills and tools necessary to build a Kabuki Drop?
  • Do you have the skills to troubleshoot, maintain and use a professional Kabuki Drop system?
  • What is your budget?

Answers to the above questions will help determine which option may be more suitable for you.


One of the biggest factors to consider will be the budget that you have to work with.

There are two factors for financial consideration. One is the initial investment and the other is the ongoing cost.

  • Building your own Kabuki Drop system will generally cost the least.
  • Renting a Kabuki Drop system will be more expensive than building one but you would incur rental cost each time you require it. This cost can accumulate if you are using the system multiple times.
  • Buying a Kabuki Drop system requires the highest initial investment with some ongoing costs such as maintenance or storage. However, if you are using the system multiple times, the investment may be worth it as the costs are amortized over a period of time/ uses.

Here are specific considerations for each option:


While building a Kabuki Drop does not require the technical skills of the “American Chopper” team, an aptitude for wood work, handling of tools and building of things as well as the availability of a properly equipped workshop are a must.

The size of the Kabuki drop can be a factor when building a system. If the curtain is very large, you will need sufficient space to build and test the drop.

Your time should also be factored into this consideration. You will need time to design, plan, build and test the system. If you do not have a lead time sufficient to build and test the system, you are likely better off buying or renting a system.


The first step is to research for Kabuki Drop methods, systems and designs.

Some resources include:


Choosing, Designing & Building the System

Your research should help you decide on the Kabuki Drop method you can/ want to build; for example, whether it is a manual or electromechanical linear solenoid system.

Plan out exactly what you need and how to build the system. This includes having a set of building plans, materials & tools list.

Come up with a production timeline to ensure you have a timetable for building, testing and troubleshooting the system.

If you do not have a theatre venue to work in, it is advisable set-up some kind of suspended horizontal support to replicate a flying bar to test the curtain drop under “real working” conditions.

Get familiar with the system. Understand its idiosyncrasies and learn how to make adjustments and troubleshoot as necessary to get the system working perfectly.



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.

Contact the Manufacturer/ Reseller of Kabuki Drop System

Contact the manufacturers or resellers of different systems and request for product info and prices, if the information is not available online.

A list of manufacturers of professional Kabuki Drop systems include:

Rose Brand
Magic FX
Rent What? Inc.
Joseph C. Hasen Co.
Drape Kings
ESP Support

Buy the System and Learn How to Use it

Once you have all the pertinent information on hand and have worked out your budget, purchase the system.

Note, it will still take some time for the delivery of the Kabuki Drop and you will need additional time to make the curtains and learn how to use the system. Be sure to factor this into your lead time when buying the Kabuki Drop.



If you require a Kabuki Drop for a one-off event or show, renting the system may be the best option.

If you are organizing an event and have an appointed event producer, you can have him/ her source for a vendor for you and make all the necessary arrangements.

If you are self-producing an event or show and require just the Kabuki Drop, you can source for an event production or technical service provider. You can also look for a company that specializes in drapes for theatrical productions.

Do a Google search or ask for recommendations if you have any friends in the event or theatre industry.

What to Look Out For?

Renting the system generally includes the support team to set up/ tear down and execute the curtain drop so it is a hassle-free option.

As you will unlikely be using the Kabuki Drop system yourself, you do not really need to be concerned with the type of the Kabuki Drop System used.

What is more important is the reliability of the provider as well as the system they are using.

Some questions to ask a potential rental provider include:

  • What is the cost of the Kabuki Drop (based on the size of curtain you need)?
  • How long will it take to set up?
  • How experienced are they in Kabuki Drops? What past shows/ events have they done?
  • What type of Kabuki Drop system are they using? Any particular brand?
  • How reliable is the system and what happens if the system fails or the curtain does not drop completely?

Based on the answers given, you should be able to assess which company would be best for you.

Here is a quick guide as to help you decide whether you should build, buy or rent a Kabuki Drop System:

Determining FactorsBUILDBUYRENT
Large Kabuki DropNOYESYES
Heavy Kabuki Drop FabricNOYESYES
Repeated Use of SystemYESYESNO
Use of System at Fixed Location
Manpower for Set-up/ Tear Down/ ActivationYESYESNO
Significant Role of Kabuki Drop in Show/ EventNOYESYES
Long Lead Time to Production/ EventYESYESNO
Possess Skills & Tools for Building Kabuki Drop
Possess Skills for Troubleshooting/ Maintenance YESYESNO

Read Previous Topic:
Ideas for Kabuki Drops

Read Next Topic:

Kabuki Drop Resource Contents

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)illusionbookstore.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.

J C Sum

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Kabuki Drop Resource | Magic Kabuki Drop - 5th November 2016

[…] Build, Buy or Rent Kabuki Drops […]


Leave a Reply: