Turn tables have been used in theater for a very long time. They allow for quick scene changes. They can be effective in adding movement to the show. On Broadway, a great example of turn table use is in the musical, Les Mis. They use the table to allow the actor to walk, but stay in one place.
The most interesting turn table I've worked on is the one built into the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The turntable is built across three elevators. All three elevators must be at the same level.A turntable is simple to make and to operate. It can be any size and shape. Round is the most popular. The one on this page is 4 feet square. You can also take a look at a turntable during the building process...
What's needed for a turntable?
- A platform, any shape.
- A pivot point.
- A method of keeping it from wandering off the pivot point.
- A drive. This can be hand driven or motorized.
- A method to stop it from turning. A brake and/or locking device.
start with a basic, round turntable. The pivot point is in the center
and the round platform doesn't need to move anywhere else on stage. On
paper, we start with a drawing of a circle. We add the required framing
for the platform. We need to figure out the locations for all the
wheels. We would use straight casters for this. The shaft of the caster
must be aligned with the pivot point. This is very important! Each
caster will be traveling on a continuous curved line that doesn't
If you were to use swivel casters, it would be harder to get the turntable to turn in the reverse direction.
Photos of the actual platform. Click on a photo to see a larger version.