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The dangers of "staging" a hanging

Only 9K

Scanned from The Sun, 19 Aug 1997.

It was nearly midnight, so I thought I'd just listen to the news before switching off the clock radio for the night. The last news I had heard a few hours previously had headlined with the story that Greenpeace were about to be sued by British Petroleum for 1.5m (about $2.3m) following their recent activities on the Stenna Dee oil platform, about 100 miles west of Shetland, in Scotland.

I was saddened and stunned to hear that the leading story had changed to an item about a chap who had hung himself on stage portraying Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, a show that is a particular favorite of mine. Being how this is radio news (3 minute on the hour summary), there wasn't much more detail.

The following detail I picked up the story in a newspaper. It transpired this had been a very public hanging, from someone who had performed this very illusion many times.

Every few months in the R.A.T.S. newsgroup there is a Frequently Asked Question on "how do I hang someone on stage?". The advice is always the same. If you need to ask the question, you don't know enough to undertake a DIY hanging. Call in the experts, and there are a number of good reasons why:
  • Safety - Get it wrong and someone will be injured, or maybe killed
  • Liability - Especially in the USA, you may be held responsible and sued for zillions of dollars.
  • Freedom - If you do a job shown to be negligent you will probably be charged with manslaughter, and probably do time in jail.

This is theatre, we are in the entertainments business. This stuff is about illusion and make believe. Lets keep it this way. No show is so important that someone need to die for it. Never, ever put a proper rope round anyones neck.

Scan of another article (32K), this time from the Daily Mail, published on the 20th August 1997. The last sentence is particularly chilling.


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