Volunteering Behind the Scenes

Posted by Sarah Powell on Jan 29, 2019 Sarah Powell
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“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

a director speaking to actors on a stage

Thus said Shakespeare, way back in 1603 when As You Like It was first performed. Living in the Upper Valley in 2019, it’s easy to imagine that all the world is, indeed, a stage. There never was, and probably never will be, a rural enclave with more live performance venues per capita than what you’ll find in the Upper Valley. Think of it—Hopkins Center, Northern Stage, Lebanon Opera House, Claremont Opera House . . . the list goes on and on.

This abundance of live theater represents a deep wealth of cultural engagement, and it also represents a plethora of volunteer opportunities. Volunteering doesn’t have to be about soup kitchens and hospital visits. It can also lead to a rewarding involvement with the theater. Here’s how.

  • Signing on to be an usher is one of the sweetest volunteer deals out there. You may be called to help with a little setup before the show, assist theater goers to their seats, maybe help with a little clean up after the show, and in return you get to watch the shows—for free.
  • Public Relations and Promotions. Somebody has to do it—lay out and print up posters, write and print the programs, contact media outlets, get the show listed on community calendars, answer email inquiries, return voicemail messages. The list of quotidian details that someone needs to stay on top of can be long, and you can bet that directors and actors don’t want to do it. Make their day and take this busy work off their hands.
  • Lights, Sound, Props. Reliable help behind the scenes is crucial to every performance. What good is a stellar performance of Hamlet if the lights go out, or the sound system squawks, or Hamlet finds himself holding a basketball rather than the skull of poor Yorick? There must be 101 ways that a performance can go south due to behind-the-scenes mishaps, and 101 reasons for you to prevent that from happening if you have the skills and inclination to lend a hand.
  • From the simple to the elaborate, costumes need to be designed and stitched together, and you don’t have to have won Project Runway to be of assistance. Have you ever counted the number of sequins on a ballerina’s glittering tutu? Somebody had to attach each and every one of them. That person could be you! You could help make the costumes for productions as varied as Elf to My Fair Lady. It could be a lot of fun.
  • There’s gobs of makeup to be applied in the theatre, and if you love playing with makeup, you could have the pleasure of turning your next door neighbor into a werewolf, or transforming a schoolboy into the street urchin Oliver, or glamming up a bank teller to play Roxie in Chicago.

To embark on your live theater volunteerism, contact these local theaters and see how you can contribute.

Hopkins Center

Northern Stage

Lebanon Opera House

Claremont Opera House

Newport Opera House

Shaker Bridge Theatre

New London Barn Players

Opera North

Old Church Theatre

City Center Ballet

Parish Players