Inside The Lives Of Entertainment Riggers: Brett Copes
By Anna Robb
TheatreArtLife has connected with a number of Entertainment Riggers across the globe to bring you their stories, experience and advice on the very crucial roles and responsibilities Riggers hold in today’s industry. Brett Copes is based in the Greater Atlanta Area and is a Rigging Specialist. Here is his story:
How did you get into rigging? What was the path that brought you to this career?
I was a Boy Scout working on ROPES courses that became an Actor who worked at the Climbing Gym that became a Stuntman playing Superheros in a Stunt Show that became a Rigger for a Circus Camp that became a Rigger for a big Vegas Show… and beyond.
What training courses or on the job training did you do to become a rigger? What kind of ongoing education do you partake in?
I like to take every class or workshop I can. I know I do not know everything and I want to fill up my Tool Box as best I can. I’ve taken SPRAT Rope Access courses, Stunt Rigging Courses, gotten Fall Protection certificates, flew people at Top Flight Academy, and attended the New World Rigging Conference.
What has been your favorite gig, event, show that you have rigged for and why?
That is hard to pick, sometimes Rigging for one performer in a small show can bring all the best feelings from the audience and other times Big Snazzy shows pose the most problems to be solved, which is great if you like solving problems like I do. I think my favorite might be Rigging for Circus Festivals, where we have to come up with a plan that accommodates all the classes and workshops, all the shows, and 20 something different performers at a time.
What do you think are the most important skills to have to be successful in rigging?
It’s really the right attitude and self awareness that makes the difference. Good Rigging that reduces risk for everyone. It does not need “experts” that already know everything. That’s one of the ways accidents happen, being “Over Confident”. Knowing what you know and knowing what you do not know, working within your skill set and learning to expand your skill set… those are the most important.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into rigging?
The term “Rigging” covers a lot of different jobs, Arena, Stunts, Flying Effects, Automation, Theatre, Circus, Rope Access…. so picking out which one you are interested in and putting in all the hands on work you can find is the way to go.
Describe a typical day on the job.
That is the hard one, because if I am lucky it is something new every day. Could be on a TV show, or in a Theatre…. or a Circus school.
Do you have a mentor? Who is it and why are they important to you?
Sort of, the people I worked for in my most formative years on those big Vegas shows… I think they were some of the best and smartest Riggers you can find and some of the most Elite Rigging Teams anywhere. So just by being a part of the Team, I learned so much from all of them. Then later, as I grew more experienced and schooled, we were able to be peers and work together on a whole different level.
What do you do in your downtime? Any other interesting facts you want to share with TheatreArtLife?
No…. oddly anything I end up choosing to do that has any excitement to it, ends up becoming a job and new career direction. My newest favorite things to do are to work a lot less and kayak with my awesome dog.
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