Make Your Production Go With A Bang

Not every script calls for a blank-firing pistol, and most people would be clueless as to where to locate one. Not every Director would use pyrotechnics on stage when a villain appeared, or a heroine changed her costume. Not every amateur theatre company is familiar with using armoury or special effects. But Hands On Production Services, based in Glasgow, is the sort of company which exists for those "lets-do-something-different" moments. Or, perhaps, "let's-do-this-properly".

Theatre companies regularly approach Hands On, searching for solutions to unusual problems. Stage weapons are a forte of the technical services company, which has been around for nearly thirty years. Using weaponry may be something that companies avoid due to false perceptions surrounding the regulations and the risks. Hands On Technical Director Perry Costello is a registered armourer who claims safety is paramount, but that amateur theatre companies shouldn't worry. "Using a licensed supplier means you can be assured of the quality of the products, and will also receive sound advice about their safe use." 

Costello is extremely knowledgeable about the company's collection of weapons and props, and believes one of the great things about using authentic props is the sense of fulfilment it gives the cast. "Actors can perform better when they have the right kit, and can give the action meaning. Not only do the audience see a better performance from the actors, but realistic and well-sourced props lend realism to the show, and keep the audience coming back for more." 

Amateur companies may steer clear of creating special effects on stage, because of associated costs and hazards. However, effects using confetti, glitter, flashes and smoke can be achieved with ease. Hands On is an agent for pyrotechnics company Le Maitre, and Costello is a member of the Institute of Explosives Engineers. "Companies who come to us once often return, because the pyrotechnics are actually pretty easy to use, and not as expensive as they first thought." 

Robin Hume from Kilmarnock Amateur Operatic Society says, "Hands On approached us and asked if we required pyrotechnics for our recent production of The Wizard of Oz. The team was helpful and very knowledgeable about their Aladdin's cave of products and how best to use them. We were delighted with the service. The pyros did exactly what they said on the tin. Audiences loved the flaming witch's broom and the puffs of smoke when she appeared." 

East Kilbride Light Opera Club, another NODA member, has had a similarly positive experience using the armoury service. "We needed a blank-firing pistol for our production of Carousel," says club secretary Pauline Moscardini. "We knew Hands On could deliver something appropriate. It was an important part of the plot and was definitely worth it." 

There are numerous ways in which armoury and special effects can make an ordinary production authentic, realistic and downright spectacular: a rifle for Annie Get Your Gun, a flash for a magician's wand or duelling swords for Romeo and Juliet. And companies such as Hands On - who also supply staging, drapes, rigging and a huge range of props - have all the products and expertise in one place. 


For more information, contact HANDS ON Marketing Manager Kirsty Cooke
Tel: 0141 440 2005

For information regarding Kilmarnock Amateur Operatic Society, contact Robin Hume
Tel: 01563 533798 or 07795 685886

For information regarding East Kilbride Light Opera Club, contact 
Club Secretary Pauline Moscardini
Tel: 07970 534 450

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