All in a day's work: the toast cannon

Megan Byrne learns about the latest form of wizardry coming out of our props department.

Every now and then, we have some very strange requests come through for our productions. We’re lucky to have an incredibly talented team who, with a bit of ingenuity, are capable of whipping up pretty much anything we throw at them. But in an unusual twist, the build for “On the Production of Monsters”: required them to throw things at us; specifically – and most bizarrely – slices of toast.

If you’ve already seen Monsters, you’ll no doubt have been inspired by the fantastic set designed by Andrew Bailey. With pop-up furniture, fold out panels, Melways bean-bags and even hidden treadmills, we think this set is a pretty nifty combination of clever design and crafty construction. But our favourite feature by far would have to be the toast cannon.

This clever little device, whipped up by our Production Electrician Allan, uses an air ram that runs at 80-110 PSI to propel slices of toast through the floor, about 4.5 metres into the air. After a lot of experimentation by Allan and the team, it was discovered that rye bread toasted in a sandwich press (to keep it flat), affords the optimum height projection. Setting it up, and indeed catching toast that flies upwards in such a sudden, lofty arc requires some deft manoeuvring and excellent hand-eye coordination by our cast – there have been several classic catches already. The team is so proud of this little gadget, that they even gave it a little encore ‘fire’ on Opening Night. We’d love to see a 21-slice salute…

“On the Production of Monsters”: by Robert Reid must close this Saturday 9 June. So if you want to see the toast cannon, the treadmills, and the rest of our go-go-gadget set in action, you’ll have to be quick!

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