Monday, December 8, 2008

The Rubbermaid Choral Riser

How many of your choir directors have been faced with having to use these in place of risers?
It seems to be the preferred, cheap and quick method of getting a second row of choristers on a different level in a whole variety of tight and unconventional venues.

I have to admit - I've used them on a number of occasions, and they've been very useful.  I've used them to get a choir closer to an orchestra, or as extension to existing risers with great success.  Many churches for example don't have a good set up for choirs, so these fit the bill in a pinch, plus, you can create a stage anywhere, and in any formation you like.

The problem I have with them is that they look horrible!  I've had at least one complaint after a concert from an audience member about them, and I find the more and more that I see them in a concert, the more I dislike them.  Certainly as a chorister who has had to stand on one (actually I use two, one for each foot) they are probably the most uncomfortable options around, with no ability to "move" your feet.  I also suffer from on stage vertigo, something I picked up a few years ago, and can't seem to find a way to solve, so standing on a plastic stool no wider than my shoulders certainly doesn't help!

My questions is - is there another option?  Should someone approach the rubbermaid company and have them create a stool specifically for this purpose?  Perhaps a larger, yet still stackable portable system that came in a variety of colours to match the stage?



Crimson Rambler said...

what if they were black?

Allen H Simon said...

We went through the same conversations a few years ago, and never got a good resolution. There are, of course, specialized stools for choruses, but they cost big bux. Rubbermaid is still winning on cost/benefit analysis.

Stealthy Dachshund said...

1) What about rubber maid stools with a folding table set on them?
The table is strong enough to support the weight and broad enough to allow a little shifting.
You could then also pin a skirt around them

2) Pallets. Cut the pallets in half, so that instead of being 4x4, they're 2x4. Lay them down and screw OSB to them, and staple on a scrap of carpet, or paint 'em black. Again, pin the skirt around the outside.

3) Build risers. For a 2x8 platform (room for four singers?) you would need: 3 8' 2x6s, and 1/2 sheet of OSB, plus some screws. $20 a piece + labour? That's gotta be cheaper than your stools.

4) Drywall stilts. I know the initial cost would be much higher... but my god... SO AWESOME!

John Brough said...

All good comments. And yes, Allen - the cost/benefit analysis (not to mention flexibility) is always going to be the winner.

I like SD's ideas as well. The main problem is - or rather the plus side to the rubbermaid stools is of course the ease at which they are transported. Thirty stools can easily be transported in a hatchback - heck, even a smart car! Also they fit in very tight places.

They used them in Sunday's show and really it's the only option to get two choristers up higher than the double bass player, and over the organist with only 2 square fee of floor space on either side.

I've thought about the possibility of buying black ones - it would help the look I think - not sure why, but I guess the white ones always seem to be in stock at the time when we need them (we bought ours the day of the concert, after realizing at the dress rehearsal that it was the quick and easy option). I've also thought about covering the white ones with black material - but as my wife points out - that increases the possibility of accidental falls, slippery surfaces etc.

I'm also thinking more and more of a temporary/permanent solution at my church. A collapsable/storable riser/stage system to be used for choir concerts - complete with a ramp to get the 7 foot grand up and down. I have ideas in my head, and a few good carpenter contacts. Could be a good summer project in time for the Fringe festival. There would of course be a good fee charged to groups who want to use it - as any option we use will likely have a 2 hour set up and tear down time.

Anonymous said...

SD provides lots of good ideas; but issues continue to arise in spaces where the choir can't be set up in traditional riser format, or where risers aren't long enough, or where the space is funnily shaped... which is pretty much every space anywhere ever.

The nice thing about the rubbermaid stools is you can curve them, stagger them, do whatever you need to adapt the choir to the space.

I think that painting them black is the best solution.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

I used to do exercises at a gym on something that was a low bench. I think it was a weight class. It was a low bench thing about 9" high with rubber padding. . .