March 4, 2014
Sapsis Rigging Flies Phoenix in St. John's Cathedral
Sapsis Rigging provided rigging design and installation services as well as all of the equipment to fly two sculptures in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. The sculptures, designed and crafted by Chinese artist Xu Bing , represent a male and female Phoenix flying through the nave of the Cathedral.
Sapsis Rigging Project Manager Michael Sapsis noted, "This project was interesting from start to finish. The Cathedral, which was built in the 1890's, was not designed with rigging points and finding places to support the weight of the two birds was a challenge."
The two Phoenix, which weigh 13,000 pounds each, were suspended from a truss grid which was in turn suspended from 38 chain hoists attached to the building. The truss grid contains approximately 850 ft of 20.5" aluminum box truss and weighs approximately 12,000 pounds, bringing the total weight suspended from the Cathedral roof to 38,0000 pounds.
The Cathedral, located at 112th St and Amsterdam Avenue, is the largest gothic Cathedral in the world. The nave is 250' long and 125' high. Daniel Porter, one the the lead riggers for Sapsis Rigging observed that, "The first hurdle was to get the sculptures into the building." A 50' long X 30' tall loading dock was built from the front of the Cathedral out to Amsterdam Avenue so the crates on flatbed trucks containing the sculptures could be offloaded by cranes. The front doors of the Cathedral were then removed to allow the larger sections of the birds to fit into the nave.
Once inside, the truss grid was assembled and flown into position 60' above the Cathedral floor. Large sections of the sculptures were then assembled on the floor and raised into position and suspended from the truss grid. The entire installation took just under 2 weeks to complete.
"We started discussions about the project over a year ago", Michael offered, "and the serious design and engineering phase lasted 3 months." The sculptures will be on view in the Cathedral for the rest of 2014.
Sapsis Rigging is very honored and proud to be part of this project and would like to thank Michael Sapsis and the SRI installation team; Daniel Porter, Paul Sapsis, Alex Gorman, Daryll John, Nate Doyle, Scott Sloan, the Sapsis Rigging staff and McLaren Engineering for their dedication and hard work in making this project happen.
January 4, 2013
Goodman Theatre calls Sapsis Rigging for Lifelines
Improving safety conditions for technical staff members has always been a primary goal at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. When timing and budgets came together after the annual production of A Christmas Carol opened in November 2012, it was time to call for lifelines—and they called Sapsis Rigging, Inc.
Sapsis installed fall arrest equipment in both performance spaces at the Goodman: the 856-seat Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre's proscenium stage, and the flexible thrust-style stage in the (maximum) 450-seat Owen Bruner Goodman Theatre.
Daniel Porter, one of the ETCP-certified rigging professionals on the Sapsis staff, supervised the entire installation. He and his crew placed eight ProPlus® horizontal lifelines on the Albert's catwalk, balcony rail, and loading bridge, as well as 36 ProPlus® self-retracting lifelines (SRLs). These SRLs feature a dual inertia braking system, which stops a fall with minimal impact to the technician's body.
In the Owen Theatre, Porter and his crew installed eight horizontal lifelines and 20 self-retracting lifelines, to keep electricians and other technicians safe while working on ladders above the stage and house.
The Goodman installation took a total of ten days to complete.
"The Goodman leadership knew that fall arrest is a necessary part of keeping technicians safe," said Bill Sapsis, president of Sapsis Rigging. "Having this safety equipment in place gives production managers one less thing to worry about when the crew is working long hours during a fast turnaround."
"When we had the opportunity to take this step, the first call we made was to Sapsis Rigging," said Scott Conn, the Goodman Theatre's production manager. "Bill knew exactly what we needed, and the staff worked within our time frame to get the job done—right in the middle of our Christmas production season, when we had performances on both stages. The installation was fast, easy, and expertly done. The result gives us real peace of mind."
May 13 2011
200th Safety Seminar
Bill Sapsis, president of Sapsis Rigging, Inc. and a leader in promoting rigging safety in the entertainment industry, recently conducted his 200th training seminar. The 2-day seminar was held for IATSE Local 19 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Bill noted, "Safety has always been important to me and training is the best way to instill good safety practices. The surge in interest in safety and training over the last 10 years has been very welcome and I hope to continue to be of service to the industry for many years to come."
Bill has held seminars at some of the country's most notable performance venues including the Metropolitan Opera, Radio City Music Hall, and Madison Square Garden. He has led week-long sessions in Helsinki, Finland, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa as well as numerous locations throughout North America.
For additional information about Sapsis Rigging, Inc.'s seminars, safety programs and products, call 800-727-7471 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Leonardo's Last Supper
Sapsis Rigging, Inc. (SRI) designed and installed the truss system for the multimedia exhibit Leonardo's Last Supper: A Vision by Peter Greenaway recently on view at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. SRI built the support structure for a full-scale replica of the Refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan that would display a "clone" of da Vinci's masterpiece.
The truss rig measured approximately 38' high by 30' deep and 120' long. In addition to supporting the larger-than-life recreation of da Vinci's famous painting The Last Supper, the rig held an array of audio-visual and lighting equipment.
"Working at the Park Avenue Armory is always interesting and this project was no different. While getting the set into the right place was a bit of a challenge at times, it was great fun working with the Italian scenic artists," said project manager Michael Sapsis.
Bill Sapsis Receives ESTA's Highest Honor
NEW YORK, NY -- ESTA (the Entertainment Services and Technology Association) presented the 2010 Eva Swan Award to Bill Sapsis for his dedicated volunteerism and the exceptional impact his efforts have had on the Association, The ESTA Foundation, and the industry.
The award was presented by Eddie Raymond who highlighted some of Bill's volunteer activities over the years. "Bill has left his mark on almost every part of this association and continues to be an active member and integral part of the day to day workings of ESTA. He has contributed not only his time and expertise, but over and over his sense of humor."
ESTA's Executive Director, Lori Rubinstein, echoes this comment, "Bill so richly deserves this award. His passion for the organization, for the industry, and for taking care of his colleagues inspires so many of us in the industry."
The Eva Swan Award is presented to a member who has put forth exceptional efforts in time, expertise and personal resources on behalf of ESTA; been instrumental in shaping and promoting the strategic direction of the Association; made major contributions to the realization of the mission, goals and objectives; and enhanced the value of membership for all.
May 12, 2010
Sapsis Rigging Springs up in New York City.
For the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute Ball, Sapsis provided rigging design, equipment and installation for all lighting and sound elements as well as two 30' diameter cold air balloons; one in the Grand Lobby and the other in the American Wing.
Also in the Metropolitan Museum Sapsis Rigging provided rigging design, equipment and installation for a benefit to honor the memory Christo's wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude. Among many other projects, Jeanne-Claude and Christo were the creators of the highly acclaimed outdoor work The Gates, Central Park New York City.
While all this was going on at the Metropolitan Museum, Sapsis Rigging also moved 20 blocks uptown to provide rigging services and equipment for Mt. Sinai Hospital's Crystal Ball. The Ball, now in it's 23rd year, is the largest fundraiser of the year for Mt. Sinai and Sapsis Rigging is proud to have been involved in every one of them.
January 12, 2010
Sapsis Rigging rings in the new year with new Fall Arrest systems installations.
As part of Sapsis Rigging's, ongoing commitment to safety in the workplace, the SRI crew has installed Fall Arrest systems in three separate venues since the start of the New Year.
West Chester University, in West Chester, PA. had two horizontal lifelines installed on their loading bridges as well as four self retracting lifelines at their front of house lighting positions.
Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts is now the proud owner of three horizontal lifelines on their theatre loading bridges.
The David H. Koch Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York City, had installed six horizontal lifelines at their front of house cove lighting positions.
The equipment provided for these installations are all part of the Sapsis Rigging ProPlus Fall Arrest System™ line of personal protective equipment designed for use by entertainment technicians working at height.
October 12, 2009
Sapsis Rigging returns to its beginnings
Sapsis Rigging recently finished a renovation of Goodhart Hall at Bryn Mawr College. The renovation included converting the traditional proscenium stage into an open thrust style space, creating a new scene shop and a black box theatre. There are catwalks over the stage for lighting, masking and audio systems and the black box has movable gantry style catwalks that allow for lighting positions over the entire performance area.
"This was a fascinating project for me" notes Sapsis Rigging president Bill Sapsis. "The very first rigging project Sapsis Rigging did was here in Goodhart Hall in 1981." Michael Sapsis, the SRI supervisor on the original installation remembers. "We installed two motorized 65' tall double sided curtains in the auditorium to allow for smaller, more intimate productions. It was murder drilling into that concrete poured arch. I was none to happy with Bill because spent almost the entire period in Taiwan on another project. Those curtains are long gone but I did notice that the winch brackets are still bolted to the walls"
Over the years Sapsis Rigging conducted numerous inspections of the counterweight system, ran two partial renovations and even installed a dimming and control system in 1984 that had been purchased for the college by alumnus, Katherine Hepburn. "The evolution of the space", Bill continued "has culminated in a venue that meets modern day performance requirements with ease and efficiency and one that I am proud to have been a part. I'd be lying, however, if I said I wasn't looking forward to the next renovation. I suspect, however, that I'll be retired long before that happens"
September 9, 2009
Sapsis Rigging Inc among finalists for two Rock Our World awards.
Sapsis Rigging, Inc has been nominated for two ESTA Rock Our World awards. The SRI ProPlus Fall Arrest System line of fall arrest equipment has been nominated in the products category and Anthropodino – Ernesto Neto art installation at the New York Park Avenue Armory has been nominated in the projects category.
Sapsis Rigging president Bill Sapsis was surprised by the announcement. "It's an honor to be among some of the most respected names in the industry who have been nominated for these awards. The project managers deserve all the credit. Sarah Gowan and Ildelis Cruz spearheaded the introduction of the ProPlus product line and Mike Sapsis, Paul Sapsis and Daryll John were the lead riggers for Anthrpodino."
The SRI ProPlus Fall Protection System provides state of the art protection for entertainment technicians working at height. Anthropodino – the Ernesto Neto art installation received critical and public acclaim for it's whimsical and exciting environment mounted in the cavernous New York Park Avenue Armory.
July 22, 2009
Sapsis Rigging Helps with Castleton Opening.
Sapsis Rigging, Inc. provided the rigging package for the inaugural Castleton Festival, held in Castleton, Virginia. The festival, which will be an annual event, was held on the 550 acre estate of Lorin Maazel, who finished his final concert as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic a week before the start of Castleton.
Sapsis Rigging provided a 6 legged ground support system for the main performance venue, a 150' X 100' clear span tent. The 6 main trusses each had a span of 50'. The venue played host to four fully staged chamber operas by Benjamin Britton over the course of the month.
Mike Sapsis, SRI supervisor for the event, commented while standing on stage, "What a great place to hold a festival. The estate is beautiful and the Virginia countryside provides a welcome change to city life in the summertime".
The Castleton Festival is designed to be a nurturing ground for young professional artists and advanced students, who will live and work together over a month-long period, primarily on the Castleton Farms property.
The Castleton Festival website
May 20, 2009
Sapsis Rigging Projects Highlight Creativity, Flexibility
Sapsis Rigging projects featured in PLS&N Link
May 14, 2009
Sapsis Rigging Provides Rigging for Park Avenue Armory Art Installation
Sapsis Rigging provided rigging design, equipment and installation supervision and labor for the New York Park Avenue Armory and artist Ernesto Neto's first commissioned art installation in the 66th St and Park Avenue venue.
The piece, titled "anthropodino" is a 120 ft wide by 180 ft long canopy suspended from the armory roof structure. Columns of fabric, weighted with spices and sand, descend 60' and help define a maze of rooms and passageways.
The primary load-in took two days, noted rigging project manager Michael Sapsis. "Because the hanging points would greatly affect the shape of the fabric, we worked closely with Ernesto to make sure the points were located in the roof steel properly. Once he was satisfied with the point location we ran the fabric through the points and started shaping the fabric with the scented columns." The fine tuning took another two days with SRI's Daryll John taking the lead to make sure the piece was safe and secure.
Sapsis Rigging moves with the Crystal Ball.
Sapsis Rigging provided rigging services (design, equipment, labor and supervision) for the 23rd Annual Mt Sinai Crystal Ball. The ball is the New York City hospital's largest fundraiser of the year. Not wishing to expose patients and staff to the H1N1 virus, the event was moved from its traditional location, the hospital lobby at 105th St and Park Avenue, to the Central Park Conservancy tent nearby in Central Park. The decision to make the move came only a day and a half before the load in was scheduled to begin.
Mike Sapsis, the SRI project manager for the event noted that "the problems we faced in moving to a different venue were compounded by the fact that we were no longer in a building but now in a tent. Not only did we have further to go to get the gear into the tent but also the allowable loads in the tent are very different from those in the building. And the suspension methods are also very different from one structure to the other. We re-designed the system on the fly, shifted equipment around as best as possible, added a couple of ground support systems and were good to go in time for the event."
March 24, 2009
Sapsis Rigging, Inc. is pleased and honored to announce that it's founder and president, Bill Sapsis, has been named a Fellow of the Institute by the United States Institute of Theatre Technology. The presentation was made during the Fellows address and award ceremony on Thursday night at the USITT Conference in Cincinnati.
In his introduction of Bill, Joe Aldridge, Vice President for Conferences for USITT and a Fellow in his own right, noted that Bill "is an inspiration to young technicians entering the industry."
The honorary designation of Fellow of the Institute is bestowed for life upon those members who have made a truly outstanding contribution to the theatre and the work of the Institute. Bill Sapsis commented "The Fellows are well known for their commitment to the members of the Institute, especially the students and I am deeply honored to now be part of their company."
For more information on the Fellows of the Institute, please visit
December 10, 2008
Paulson & Sapsis team up at Madison Square Garden.
Rocky Paulson and Bill Sapsis, two of the leading rigging instructors in the United States, recently conducted a 3 day master class at Madison Square Garden. The class was attended by members of the Garden staff and Local 1 riggers.
The three day class covered Arena and Theatrical styles of rigging with an emphasis on problem solving. Rocky admitted that "the math can get a little heavy at times but these guys stuck with it. They did a great job." The final portion of the class was spent drop-testing a 220 pound weight to simulate a technician falling off a truss. "The forces involved in arresting a fall can be very surprising", Bill observed, "and the results bring home the importance of having the right fall protection equipment."
"Rocky and I haven't held a class together since 1994" noted Bill. "Up to now our schedules just never lined up. Rocky is the consummate teacher and his attention to detail is awesome." Rocky added that "Madison Square Garden is a great place to teach. The staff was very eager to have this class and their commitment to safety is inspiring. They're already planning on the next round of classes."
Sapsis Rigging Goes to the Opera
Sapsis Rigging, Inc. was part of the critically acclaimed Lincoln Center Festival production of Die Soldaten at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The company provided rigging consultation, design, and equipment for this landmark opera production from 20th-century German composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann. The rigging equipment for Die Soldaten, which included over 150 chain hoists and approximately 3,000' of truss, was part of an overall load in that took two weeks to complete.
Mike Sapsis, who shared onsite supervisor duties with son, Paul, noted, "Working in this venue is always interesting. The 55,000-sq.-ft. space is great to work in, but, because it was built in 1877, hanging even a normal show in here can be a challenge. Die Soldaten was anything but normal. This production, with the moving risers and everything else going on, presented it's own set of demands. Thanks to a great team and excellent communication with the Lincoln Center festival design and production teams, we put this project together quickly and safely.
April 23, 2008
Sapsis Rigging Hangs with the Pope in New York City
Sapsis Rigging provided rigging production management services for the Papal arrival and departure ceremonies held at JFK Airport. These services included systems design, load certification and liaison between the production companies and the engineering staff at JFK. It also included onsite supervision of all hanging elements. Mike Sapsis, SRI team leader, noted; "Working in this industry presents a new challenge every day. The scope of this project, coupled with the fact that we were in an airplane hanger, made it all the more interesting...and fun."
November 27, 2007
Sapsis Rigging in New York
Sapsis Rigging recently provided rigging services for two special events in New York City.
For the launch of the new Target Model-Less Fashion Show, Sapsis Rigging provided an eight-legged, self-climbing ground support system in Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Station. The rig was 40' wide and 80' long and was used to support lighting, audio and Barco projectors. The projectors were side-mounted to allow images to be projected in several directions. The Model-Less Fashion Show was billed as the world's first fashion show without models.
At the same time Sapsis Rigging provided the rigging for the latest 7th on Sale AIDS Benefit held at the 26th Street Armory in NYC. Sapsis Rigging has provided the rigging for every 7th on Sale event since they began in 1990. The rig for this year's production included over 75 hoists and approximately 3000 feet of truss.
The semi-annual affair features fashion designer clothing and samples on sale via an eBay auction and three sale days at the Lexington Avenue & 26th Street Armory. 100% of the money raised goes to services and housing for those living with HIV and AIDS.