“You've got $40.”
—The Producer


For the Savannah Actor's Theatre production of Agnes of God, the director and I wanted the ecstatic moments of the play to be swept up in magic and emotion. It was important that the lead actress be overcome with the scene and not have to control the usual theatrical blood effect herself. The budget for properties and effects was small, and I needed to be incredibly resourceful while taking into account: Ease of use, effectiveness, repeatability, actor comfort, seamlessness. So the question was: How to create a dripping, visceral stigmata from the actress' hands and head multiple times over the course of a show "just happen?" There needed to be a flow of blood, and it essentially needed to be remote controlled.

So in came the fire truck.
The raw materials.


I didn't really have the time or resources to start from scratch and Arduino wasn't a thing yet. I found this remote controlled fire truck on Amazon for under $30—and it shoots water with supposedly impressive force. I stripped it down to the circuit board, servo, pumping mechanism, and power pack. It needed a custom, flexible reservoir to hold the blood. All of this was not terribly small, so I designed a comfortable holster that strapped everything to the actress' thigh where it wouldn't be a bother nor noticeable.
With the tubing threaded, I position a nozzle on the actress' wrist.
The whole system was fitted to a flexible tubing network that carried the blood to each wrist and top of forehead. Instead of securing the tubing at points on her body, everything was threaded under a leotard, which allowed her maximum flexibility. Valves were inserted along the line, and special nozzles were created in order to control an even flow and the desired dripping effect.
Add in an etherial feather trap system above the stage and you get a pretty powerful moment of ecstasy for the up close and personal audience.
Theatre Production

Agnes of God

Practical Stage Effects
Savannah Actor's Theatre, GA 2007
Director: David I. L. Poole