Stage Management

How to Tape a Circle – Ruth’s Method


The taped out rehearsal room of “Tuck Everlasting” at Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute. Photo by Elynmarie Kazle

To tape a circle using this method, without string, chalk or plotting multiple points, you need two people, a roll of spike tape, and a metal tape measure (the almost square kind that locks and has a flat bottom, enabling it to stand up by itself.) The only two measurements you need are the coordinates of the center point of the circle, and the length of the circle’s radius.

Locate the center point of the circle and place a good size dot or an “X” on the floor. One person sits at the center of the circle holding the “zero” end of the tape measure on the center point. That person’s job is to hold it there, and allow the tape measure to pivot without kinking, bending, or moving the end off of the center point.

So, let’s say it’s a six foot diameter circle, with a three foot radius. The tape measure should be opened to just a few inches past three feet, and set flat on the floor. The “taper” kneels on the floor, puts down the end of the spike tape just under the tape measure, centered under the three foot mark and pulls out about another foot of spike tape. Then all the “taper” has to do is push the tape measure forward with a finger (or thumb) on the three foot mark and together the tape measure and pressure of the finger push the spike tape to the floor. Continue pushing the tape measure on top of the spike tape and extending the spike tape, always centered exactly under the three foot mark. If the person at the middle is allowing the tape measure to swivel with each push, yet keeping the zero end exactly on the center dot, and the “taper” keeps the spike tape aligned in the center of the three foot mark, you’ll have a perfect circle (and very sore knees) in no time at all. It takes some practice (and stamina) and smaller circles are somehow more difficult than larger ones, but I’ve used this technique for years with great success.

(Oh, the person in the center of the circle is also responsible for moral support, and must call out “What an amazing circle!” as often as they can!) This technique, is a one step process. And the circles look beautiful when you are finished!

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