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The Independent Online
FLYING in the theatre has a long tradition stretching back at least to the ancient Greeks.

The deus ex machina, literally "the god from the machine," was a character, usually a god, who resolves the complexities of the play at the end. In Greek tragedy, he was lowered from above by a crane - the machine.

In Renaissance theatre, according to the Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre, flying effects included the simple rise and fall of figures on a movable platform concealed behind clouds.

By the 18th century, mechanisms for flying effects were well documented with diagrams of the procedure to be followed for complicated flights. Over the next 100 years, the equipment grew in complexity.

But it was JM Barrie's Peter Pan that established the popularity of flying in the theatre. Kevin Wood, of Kevin Wood's Pantomimes, said: "You can't do Peter Pan without flying."