The very first thing I wrote on this website was about buying chairs for a show. It was written over two years ago, and was about something that happened way back in 2004.
And now, nine years later, I have almost exactly the same story to tell again. Which makes me start to think that maybe my entire professional career will be defined in some way by semi-regular periods of chair acquisition.
As previously mentioned, Dave Lee and I have both spent the past few months working on our respective shows for the Melbourne Magic Festival. For reasons too complex to go into here, our assigned festival venue was the new and experimental “Studio 3”, in a different part of the building to the shows we’d done in the past.
The main thing that characterised Studio 3 was its almost total lack of production values. When we turned up it was essentially an empty meeting room with 60 chairs and a 4×2 metre stage platform. No lights. No sound. No backdrop. No wings. No backstage area. No tiered seating. Terrible sight lines for the back rows. An intensely uninspiring space in which to attempt a theatrical production.
Problem solving mode ensued. Lights were hired and rigged. Sound equipment was borrowed. Drapes were constructed, and expensive collapsible backdrops were put up. There wasn’t much we could do about the lack of tiered seating though.
Not much, that is, except to once again buy our own chairs. Specifically, 20 medium height chairs and 20 ultra high ones, which when combined with 20 of the normal venue-provided chairs, created a de-facto tiered seating arrangement that significantly improved the sight lines.
Actually making that happen involved trips to two separate Ikea stores, a borrowed van, and half of Dave’s extended family helping us construct all 40 Ikea chairs. At about 15 minutes per chair, we were looking at 10 hours of labour to actually build the damn things.
Once the smoke had cleared, we ended up with a surprisingly decent theatre space. But if storing 17 folding chairs was enough of a challenge, I have no idea what we’re going to do with 40 non-folding ones.
Most likely hold on to them, and await the now seemingly inevitable third repetition of this story…