Prior to the replacement of the seating in May-June 2008, it consisted of 90 ex-cinema chairs which were bought from the ABC in Spring 2001. They were installed a couple of weeks prior to fringe 2001 and it took six people who knew what they were doing three long days to do it.
The trick to putting them in was to assemble them a chair at a time and get the backs to line up properly. They didn't quite fit because they were designed to be on a curve but it worked; up to a point.
When removing them you need to make sure you don't lose any of the springs because if you don’t have the spring in the seats have a tendency to fall out.
The seats were depreciated over five years and were due for renewal in 2006 but we didn't have the money.
The rake was installed just before fresher's week 1989 and was completed at 8:55 on the Monday of fresher’s week. Trap doors to get under the rake are located beside the door to the toilets under a lift up flap and in the little alcove through the cupboard, by the cafe entrance. The space under the rake is the only part of the building that is always warm but it's so dark, full of dust and its where the sub lives, so you’ll not want to spend much time down there. Spare parts for the old chairs were also kept there in black plastic bags but have been sold/thrown out in Mid-2008.
Renovation Work 2008
Because the seats were finally being replaced the opportunity was taken to refurbish the rake. This was for 2 reasons:
1. The seating company said that they would prefer that the rake were resurfaced prior to the new seats being installed to ensure a problem free fit out. The original ply had been compromised to some degree by the hundreds of nail, screw and bolt holes that had been sunk into it over the years.
2. EUSA were willing to pay for the £850 worth of ply and £800 worth of carpet tiles in addition to the seats themselves. It was all put on depreciation over 10 years.
The refurbishment itself consisted off:
1. Removing the old carpet 2. Removing the old plywood 3. Repairing the rake's structure 4. Laying new plywood 5. Painting the new risers 5. Laying the new carpet
In total, the project took around a week and a half to complete and involved:
Alex 'Mal' Mead (Set Manager 2007-9, 2008-9, Fringe Theatre Manager 2008), Kerry O'Herlihy (Theatre Manager 2007-8), Dave Larking (Theatre Manager 2006-7), Alex Engel (Theatre Manager 2005-6, Fringe Theatre Manager 2006), Alistair Marshall, Felic Trench (Librarian 2007-?), Cat Hobart (Theatre Manager 2008-9, Fringe Cafe Manager 2008), Neale Dutton (Fringe Technical Manager 2007, Technical Manager 2007-8) Becs Kamp (Fringe Sponsorship Manager 2007, Fringe Press & Publicity 2008), Sam Hansford (Fringe Technical Manager 2008, Entertainments Manager 2008-9, Imps Tech Manager (2008-9), Gordon Nimo-Smith.
Notes on the repairing of the rake
The rake was 19 years old and had been subjected to significant changes in temperature. Consequently, some of the beams had warped and twisted. Where necessary these were replaced though this was the exception rather than the rule.
Additionally, because power tools weren't an option in 1989 the rake was glued and nailed together. Wood will shrink over time and in many instance the nails had failed to function. The glue had also failed in some areas. This was remedied by the use of over 200 3x10 quicksilver screws. In particular the front joints that connect to the risers were reinforced.
Though the structure of the rake itself in terms of it's design was often perfectly sound, in places however, it was necessary to slightly re-engineered the framework so as to better support the weight. Notably, the area stage right adjacent to the rear of the cupboard required a denser structure than was originally present.
Amongst the more unpleasant things encountered during the project were a mouse skeleton and a considerable quantity of mouse and possibly rat droppings. Some of the programmes and ticket stubs dating back to the early 1980s can be found in the archive.
The stage cupboard wall can be easily removed to give additional entrances and it has been used to give an orchestra pit in the past. A 10' x 8' black serge cloth was purchased to cover the hole for shows which didn't want a pit. The piano was bought in 1988 and legend has it that it looked quite good when new. The candle holders were removed for use in a show and never reattached. How the top was damaged is unknown. The varnish was stripped off the top and sides for a lunchtime in 2001 and then re-stained a reddish colour but never re-varnished. It was last retuned for fringe 1994. Since then the insides were removed fringe 2002 to make it into a piece of set only. The stage cupboard is the only place which we’re technically allowed to store untreated wood because it is fully enclosed by solid walls which would supposedly take a while to burn through.
This is basically an additional storage area for set, you need to be careful that the doors will still close and nothing can fall and block the fire exit. The walls are just plaster board and as such are quite brittle as can be seen by the holes in them. Apparently on the inside of the SL wall there are messages from the people who built the auditorium. The doors were built two days before fringe 1997 when the fire officer requested them, he was not popular that day. The water stopcocks can also be found here, one feeds to the main FoH water supplies and the other feeds the boiler. I don't know which is which. The floor of the scene dock is also home to a few sheets of metal used when trying to make the seats in the auditorium moveable... it didn't work.
Cafe Entrance Corridor
Formally known as the disabled access corridor, this is really just a passageway that runs from the cafe to the front of the seating rake. It is now the main entrance to the auditorium after the small steps were boarded up for fridge 2007.
There is an alcove behind the door to the cupboard in which lives the vacuum cleaners. Also in the cupboard is a small hole that leads under the seating rig. It is quite a small hole and access is easier from the other side of the auditorium. The walls are plasterboard and tend to have people kick holes in them. The Auditorium side of this wall has been patched with hardboard to cover hold in the plaster board.