R.W. (Rick) Boychuk has been a student, teacher, technical director, IA stagehand, designer, inventor and an author. A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan in technical theatre, he has worked in the industry for over 40 years.
Rick owns and operates Grid Well, Inc. in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that holds patents on the Front-Loading Arbor, and patents pending for the Arbor Trap and SuperArbor.
Rick received two CITT awards in 2016: The Ron Epp Memorial Award for Professional Achievement in a technical discipline within the Canadian live performance industry; and The Award of Technical Merit for outstanding achievement in the use of theatre technology.
When I enrolled in university I intended to study history. As an elective, I took a drama class and ended up spending my career in theatre. I continued reading history for enjoyment.
Early in 2014, approaching mid-career, I thought it was time to give back to the industry that has given me so much. So, I offered to do a presentation on the topic of the history of counterweight rigging for the annual CITT conference in Ottawa, Canada in August of 2014.
That is when I fell into the rabbit hole. In searching for the origin of the counterweight rigging system, I have discovered historical facts that belie many beliefs that we have held for many years.
That presentation at the CITT conference has morphed into a book – greatly at the urging of those in attendance – Nobody Looks Up: The History of the Counterweight Rigging System, 1500-1925.
When I made the initial offer to do the presentation, I thought it might be of interest to a few. I now realize that this is important historical research. Although I don’t necessarily feel scholastically qualified, I seem to be the only one standing at this particular threshold.
Books and dissertations from Germany, England, France and the United States long since forgotten have been re-discovered and are the sources for the story of the development of this technology.
I have been able identify the first documented installation of a modern counterweight rigging system and in the book I take the time to describe it at length to show from how it evolved and the germ of its beginning.
I have been able to identify the first installation of a modern counterweight rigging system in North America and again, in the book, describe it and its evolution.
But the most important outcome is not the facts, per se. It is that, with the renewed and rooted understanding of our history, we might better chart our future. With this new knowledge in hand, the industry will have a enhanced view of the trajectory of stage rigging over the last 500 years.