The pin rail is part of a theatrical stage rigging system. In the older hemp and sandbag systems of rigging scenery and lighting, the control ropes for each lineset had a pin that the rope could be tied around. These belaying pins were all located on a long rail that ran the length of the fly system. Hence, pin rail. These pins function much like a cleat or the belaying pins found on sailboats. By wrapping the control rope in a figure eight shape around the belaying pin and the pin rail, the batten could be secured.

Newer theatres rarely have a full pin rail. The counterweight fly system has replaced hemp ropes and sandbags. However, the long rail where the rope locks which control the purchase lines are mounted is still called the pin rail.

For more on how all of these nautical terms and traditions became a part of the theatre, you might want to find out Why it is bad luck to whistle in a theatre.

Part of the Stage Rigging Metanode

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