Louisville Magazine

OCT 2013

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/174531

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Page 107 of 116

Rebecca Knipfer (left) and Cody Beseda of ZFX Inc. By Arielle Christian Photos by Mickie Winters hoist that can hold two tons. It was used in the third Hangover movie, when the character Mr. Chow parachuted of Caesars Palace, moving 43 mph along a quarter-mile of rope, giddily screaming, "I love cocaine!" Black harnesses hang in rows. ZFX custom-makes them with machines strong enough to sew Kevlar thread through plywood. At least 15 miles of black-oxide wire rope — which ZFX manually blackens and distributes, making it the largest supplier of the stuf in the world — hang coiled on hooks or dangling from some of the 60,000 self-installed I-beams. One door leads to "the Dojo," which in Japanese martial arts means the place of learning through exploration and constant curiosity. Te ZFX Dojo is home to mucho "MacGyvering," a word the ZFX crew uses a lot. How do you fy a 20-foot-long bird with a 20-foot wingspan, or get a performer to walk upside down and spin around on a plank, or teach a "demon" to scale the side of a haunted house? Manny, a shiny white mannequin, is the only one in the Dojo today. A rope attached to the top of Manny's head via thimble clip is being tested for durability. Tis is Manny's 84,121st-and-counting time lifted in the air. He's been at this for 19 weeks. Terry Nelson, 25, is a fying director. He spends a total of 300 days a year on the road. Sometimes he's at his Louisville apartment, his "storage unit with a kitchen," long enough to do laundry. On this September afternoon he's at ZFX on his day of to work out in the warehouse gym. He's strong. He generally lifts much more weight than what he hoists "in the feld" — most recently an actor playing Tarzan. When Nelson shows up at high schools for two-day, 12-hour teaching sessions, he likes to toy with the new and nervous fyers. "Yeah, I've been fying people for, like, two weeks," he'll say. "Watched a couple of YouTube videos on it." Amy Attaway, 34, is the current co-artistic director at Teatre 502. (Her husband, Brian Owens, is the head of the ZFX fying department.) During the 2013 Humana Festival at Actors, she directed Sleep Rock Ty Brain, which incorporated fying as a theatrical device. Te play dealt with the science of sleep, space travel, living in a dreamscape, the idea of falling in dreams. "When you sleep or dream, there seems to be an efortlessness to it," she says. "But there are neurons fring, synapses connecting." When the audience sees an actor in fight, it seems so easy. "Yet all of the riggers are behind stage," she says, "pulling ropes." Which is why, during diferent moments of Sleep Rock Ty Brain, Attaway wanted to highlight the science that is never seen by having the riggers work in plain view. During one part, a ZFX operator climbed a ladder close to the audience. Each time heads would turn, confused. He climbed, climbed, ropes in hand, and then, he jumped. Te actor few. And the audience gasped. Every time. 10.13 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 89

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