Winter’s Here. Volunteer!

”It’s just a gorgeous day out there.”

“Let’s enjoy it. We know what’s coming next.”

Terry and I were sitting in a local eatery, stirring our coffees and looking out the window. We sort of sighed over the thought of summers past as a gusty wind pushed the fallen leaves along the sidewalk.

“But Halloween is a lot of fun – and it’s theatre season again!”

We both brightened and sat up a bit straighter. The moment had passed; we had turned the corner. Our gardens had been put to sleep, camping equipment stored in the shed and T-shirts and shorts traded for fleeces and jeans. It was time to move on to the next thing.

Many moons ago I became involved in the tremendously fun theatre scene in Whitehorse – by volunteering. It was winter, so I needed to get out. It was cold, so I needed to stay in. I looked up the number of a local theatre group and phoned them.

“I don’t have any theatre experience, but I’d like to know if you could use an extra pair of hands somewhere.”

“Come out to our next meeting. We could use some help with props.”

OK, I’d taken the first step – but what would I actually be doing? Which yet-to-be-discovered skills might be lurking under the surface?

The meeting was friendly and energetic. People caught up on their comings and goings. Someone plunked an orange-date loaf in the middle of the table with a plastic knife and a stack of napkins. It seemed most people knew each other, but there were a few new members as well.

The conversation turned to the business at hand by way of introductions. There were the actors – “the cast” – who had been selected by audition. And there was everyone else – “the crew.” Not being one of the former, I was therefore one of the latter. Now we were getting somewhere.

Copies of scripts started to appear, thick sheaves of paper hauled out of briefcases and binders. There were extras for those who hadn’t received one yet. A casual read-through started. Glasses of water were passed around. The director offered bits of assistance.

“We’ll need a large umbrella so they can both fit underneath it at the same time but the audience can still see their faces. Props note.”

Props note! Duly scribbled in the column beside the dialogue of the script.

That was how it all started. The collection of scribbled notes became a typed, legible working list. What did people do before word processors and spreadsheets?

In addition to note-taking and typing, there was shopping – lots of shopping: local stores and markets, want-ads, radio ads, Internet. Where do you find an affordable pair of oversized binoculars?

Details, details! What did the banner of the local paper look like then? Should the picture on the desk be of a person or a place? Does someone carry that bottle on stage, or does it appear out of a drawer?

Through rehearsals, dress rehearsals and on to Opening Night, that first orange-date-loaf assembly, by way of dedication and applied energy, morphs into a polished performance that provides enjoyment both for those involved and those who attend. Yes indeed, it’s theatre season again.

“More coffee, girls?”

“No, thanks, we really should start moving here.”

There are many opportunities to participate in a new pasttime or lend your professional skills. If you are new to your community, it’s a great way to meet your neighbours. Keep an eye on the local papers for upcoming events and calls for volunteers, or contact the Yukon Volunteer Bureau at 456-4304.

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