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For the first time in several years, a Loeb main stage performance had to be stopped before the final curtain Friday.
The winch system that raises and lowers portions of the set malfunctioned during the next-to-last scene of The Good Woman of Setzuan, smashing part of the set and almost causing a disaster on stage.
The two wooden center portions of the set are raised out of sight by machine generated winches during the last scene of the play. A safety device normally stops them a specified distance above the stage.
Friday, however, the winches failed to stop the lower portion of the act. It carried the top part into the lighting grid 52 feet above the stage.
One of the three-pound clips that joins the winches to the set fell a few feet from stage manager Francine Stone '68. The 20-bv-8 foot wooden frame of the lower set was held up only because one of its corners was caught in a light.
The audience, separated by a curtain from the rear of the stage, heard a loud crunching noise just as Arthur Friedman, playing the First God, was complaining that "I can't stand the noise of all that gunpowder."
The four actors on stage carried the scene through to its conclusion before Miss Stone came on stage, said "Ladies and Gentlemen, it's Friday the Thirteenth," and explained that the show would have to close. Pianist Brad Berg broke into "Anything Goes."
A six-man crew headed by David Gilfillan, Malcolm Campbell '66 and Loeb technical director Donald Soule succeeded in lowering the wreckage of the set onto the stage without further damage. The set was rebuilt in a day and The Good Woman of Setzuan played to a full house Saturday night.
Soule said later that it was impossible to determine the cause of the accident, but he added that it might have been due to a human error and not to a failure of the equipment.
He praised Miss Stone's decision to end the performance and keep the actors off the stage.
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