The first in our 40th Anniversary Stories, early Touchstoner Jon Loptson give us a classic “trying to get the set through the theatre doors” story

John Taylor in The Unseen Hand (618x800)

John Taylor brandishing a gun in The Unseen Hand

A short tale about the mounting of The Unseen Hand at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

The loading entrance to the Cultural Centre in 1978 was 2 double doors, but importantly, they were offset. They were not in alignment and there were 3 or 4 steps up to the landing. I’m not sure, but I think it was John Carral who found an old rusting torpedo back forty something shell of a car – Pontiac or Oldsmobile and had it delivered to the back yard of the house I was renting. I had done a rough measurement and said words to the effect – oh yeah, no problem, we’ll be able to get it in. I hired a welder to cut the car – basically in half – though not quite, more ¾ and ¼. Then I bolted the two sections together and towed it, using my car. I had asked a few of the guys who were working on the show to help with the load-in. The Unseen Hand card We built a wooden ramp up the steps and I used my car to push it up. I unbolted the section which had previously been cut and then we tried to push it through the doors. If those doors had been in a straight line, it would have been a piece of cake. For what seemed like hours, but was probably much less, everyone was sweaty and annoyed and saying, “No way! Not going to fit!” I told everyone to go away, have a break and let me think. I realised that the wheel studs were the only thing that was stopping us. I unbolted the rear axle from the chassis and dropped the car on an old creeper trolley I had. (A creeper trolley is a flat wheeled platform that mechanics use to roll under a jacked up car.) Well, heck, we rolled that baby in and never touched the sides. Once in I re-assembled the beast and from the audience you couldn’t tell that it was ever in pieces, I rigged up a battery for the headlights and we were good to go, as the car was really the centrepiece of the set. I took a series of black and white photos of us trying to wrestle the car in – for the lobby display. Captions being: can they do it? with us victorious in the end!

Jon Loptson crop-Jon Loptson

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