After 50 years of service to the Whitman campus, seats from the Harper Joy Theatre Alexander Stage have been donated to Shakespeare Walla Walla’s (SWW) new venue, the Power House Theatre on 6th Ave.
The seats, which are still in good condition, were removed during Harper Joy’s renovation to make room for a brand-new set of chairs. Tom Hines, professor of theatre, explains that he suddenly found himself with 300 plus used seats on his hands no idea where they should go. As luck would have it, at the same time, SWW was on the hunt for approximately 300 used chairs to install in its new space.
“It did my heart good to know that a part of Harper Joy that had served the community so well for so long would continue to serve,” said Hines.
New seats would have cost SWW about $100,000, and used seats are valued at around $30,000. Whitman alumnus Mark Anderson, president of the Walla Walla Foundry and a member of SWW’s board of directors, reports that the seats required only minimal cleaning before they were installed in the theater. He said, “Whitman's donation was tailor-made for the Power House.”
SWW, formerly known as Shakespeare Uncork’d Walla Walla, is a nonprofit organization that has been bringing professional Shakespearean theatre and youth theatre education to Walla Walla for the past three years. Its productions were formerly held in the Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater, a location that will still be utilized in conjunction with the Power House Theatre. The new indoor venue has been modeled after Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Theater in London and is designed to give audience members’ maximum line of sight from every seat in the house.
The seats were moved into their new home at the Power House Theatre on May 2. Installation will be completed in time for SWW’s first production in the newly renovated space, The Merry Wives of Windsor, to open on May 19.
— Ashley Coetzee