I worked on the stage crew for a local community theater and the old timers there had a bottomless inventory of quick and rough tricks for most stage effects. They would immediately say, here’s how to make a clouds move across the moon. Or get the sound of light rain on a roof. Or make a character fly, safely. At no cost. This book is chock full of a zillion little rough and ready, low-cost effects for local theater. And enough inspiration to create your own.

Buckets of water to pour into metal containers below
Dried peas for rain - in a tin or rolling in a wire sieve
Sugar poured down a grease-proof paper chute for an alternative rain sound effect.

To make a twinkling starry sky, attach lengths of strong black thread to the stage bar. Create a galaxy by twisting aluminium foil around these threads and then make a pleasing random effect by looping up the threads to crisscross so the stars are scattered.

A fan rippling water and the right lighting angle will make the ripple effect reflect onto the stage.

Simulated rain effects are achieved by a disc that is largely black but with a few scratches in the black surface to let light through. This effect is best confined to a small area.

Fast changes with flats

Rotating flats
These are flats that are hung and so they can swivel. If they are fixed only at the top and hung from sturdy timber or onto an industrial track, as shown in the illustration, flats can be spun around very quickly indeed for a most effective fast change.

Submitted to Cool Tools by Kevin Kelly