Interested in volunteering at Theatre 29?


Hundreds of people volunteer some of their time at Theatre 29 every year. Some of those have been at the theatre since inception and there are some who have just joined this year.  Here are some questions first time volunteers ask:

· So why would I want to get involved?

· What can I do?

· Where do I start?

· How much time must I commit?

· Back Stage Night

· Theatre Jargon

· Who do I contact for more information?


So why would I want to get involved?


Here are some reasons:


· Learn a new skill. For example: wood-working, making props, sewing, project management, leadership, organization. There are many opportunities where no prior skill is required.

· Act on stage. Perhaps you'd like to try "treading the boards"? (no, you don't have to work backstage on a show before you can audition at Theatre 29)

· Have a sense of accomplishment. There's nothing better than to see a show open that you know you had a hand in getting off the ground.

· Make new friends. There are plenty of friendly people who will always greet you with a smile and are happy to see you.

· Spend quality time away from your family, or with your family :-)

· Community Service. Perhaps you just want to "give back" to the community you've grown up in (or are new to). Some schools give you extra credit for this.


What can I do?


As you can imagine, activities at Theatre 29 revolve around the shows we do. The theatre puts on 6 to 8 productions every season (January - December), so its just about one every other month. And each production runs for 5 weeks. So as you can see, as one show closes, the next one is just about to start.


As to the shows that are planned for this season, see our Season Schedule and check out the information there.


So here are some of the tasks volunteers do at the theatre. Click the links to read more about these roles. The theatre maintains a series of volunteer handbooks which describe many of the volunteer roles.


Production Crew:


· Director

· Assistant Director

· Assistant to the Director

· Technical Director

· Stage Manager

· Props Master/Mistress

· Lighting Designer

· Sound Designer

· Special Effects Designer


· Set assembly and construction (woodwork, metal work, painting, etc)

· Costume construction (sewing, etc)

· Props

Advertising and box office

· Assemble mailings for member ticket order forms, etc

· Taking ticket orders in the box office from patrons over the phone or in person

· Other office activities

· Distribution of Marketing Materials (Posters, Lobby Cards, Flyers)

Running Staff:

· Assistant Stage Manager

· Props crew member

· Light crew member (including follow spotlight operators)

· Sound crew member

· Stage crew member

· Dresser crew member

· Ushers

· House Managers

· Concessions crew member


Where do I start?


If you're new to the theatre the best place to start is work on a show as one of the crew members (props, lights, sound, running, dressing) or to work as an usher (handing out playbills, showing patrons their seats). Here's some simple steps:


Join the Theatre 29 volunteers mailing list

Watch out for emails from crew chiefs asking for crews or other emails from people asking for volunteers

Reply, saying you're interested and you're new

The crew chief will provide training

In addition, you may also want to come to the next Theatre 29 Back Stage Night (see below).

Once you're been on a crew, next you could try another crew, or try your hand as a crew chief. You could also help with construction (set, costumes or props). If you've tried ushering, perhaps next as a House Manager.


How much time must I commit?


You pick the activities you want to do, based on how much time you have. For example:


· As an usher, 1 night of your time.

· A crew member will probably need to commit to 12-18 nights of time. One of these will be during a rehearsal where you can get taught how to perform your duties, and the remainder will be the nights of the performances you will be working on.

· As someone who's helping during a construction session, or a strike (where the set is pulled down at the end of the show), just that time (eg 4 hours)

· As a crew chief, you'll attend many of the shows, all of the rehearsals in the week before opening night plus other time away from the theatre organizing your crews

· As Assistant Director, you'll attend many if not all of the rehearsals. Rehearsals typically go for 7-8 weeks, 4-5 days a week, depending on the show and the Director.

· As Stage Manager, you'll attend every rehearsal and every show. You typically are the first to arrive, and the last to leave. The Stage Manager has to commit the most amount of time of all volunteer positions.


Back Stage Night


The theatre holds a Back Stage Night every six months, typically in January and in July. This is where members of the public are invited to see how the theatre operates behind the scenes.


· You'll hear about the different volunteer positions

· You'll meet the Theatre 29 staff members

· You'll be invited to go on a tour of the building, with stops at various areas such as the scene shop and more

· You'll have the opportunity to chat to other volunteers out in the lobby with drinks and snacks

Back Stage Night is advertised via the Theatre 29 mailing list and on this Web site, as well as in newspapers.


Theatre Jargon


If you've just started, maybe you've heard a term back stage that you don't quite understand the meaning of. Check our list of theatre jargon - that might help!


Who do I contact for more information?


If you need more information about volunteering call or email either of the following people. See the staff member listing for contact info.


· Brian Tabeling, House Stage Manager/Board President  [email protected]

· Cindy Daigneault, Volunteer Chairwoman/Board Director [email protected]



Here are a few theatre terms you should become familiar with, as actors and production staff do speak their own, special, “Jargon”


· Apron: The part of the stage closest to the audience. The area of the theatre that is located between the curtain and the orchestra pit.

· Arbor: The part of the counter-weight system that holds steel weights. The weight of the arbor must match the weight of the batten. See also Fly Rail and Batten.

· Batten: the pipes above the main stage that are the part of the counter-weight system on which scenery and lights are hung. See also Fly Rail and Arbor.

· Blocking: Direction given to actors as to where they should stand or move to during the course of the play. Actors are given these bits of direction during blocking rehearsals and they should "write it down, write it down, write it down".

· Booth: Where the stage manager and usually sound and light crews are during the production.

· Bump: The lights or sound on stage come on or go off without any delay, just like a switch. Also called a "zero count fade". See also Fade.

· Call Board: The bulletin board where everyone signs in and notices are posted (also known as sign-in board)

· Call Time: The time that all actors and crew are expected to be at the theater.

· Callbacks: The second round of auditions. Depending on the production, the director uses callbacks to select principal roles (having already selected chorus/ensemble during the first round), or the director uses callbacks to review his/her short list of potential cast members.

· Cast Party: The generic term for a party where all cast and crew involved with a production are invited to relax and have a good time after the show.

· Costume Parade: See Dress Parade.

· Crew Watch: The rehearsal set aside for all of the departments to come and watch the show so they have an overall understanding of how their crew fits into the "grand scheme of things".

· Curtain Call: When the actors come out at the end of the show to take their bows.

· Curtain Warmers: The lights that are focused on the curtain so that the audience has something to look at before the show starts.

· Curtain: Either the large drape that obscures the stage from an audience or a time when the show will start.

· Down stage: The part of the stage that is closest to the audience. It is called "down" because some theatre stages are sloped ("raked") towards the audience, so it literally is the lowest point of the stage.  See also stage left, stage right, and up stage.

· Dress Parade: When the actors dress up in their brand new costumes and stand in front of the Costume Designer and the Artistic Director to see how they look.

· Dry Tech: The first technical rehearsal, without actors (therefore, without costumes and props) so that lights, sound, and running crew can rehearse their parts. Usually held the Saturday morning or Friday night before opening night.

· Fade: A light intensity or sound level change over a set number of seconds. For example, the lights on stage may fade to a blackout over 5 seconds. See also Fade.

· Fire curtain: A large sheet of material that, in case of a fire emergency, comes down up stage of the proscenium and completely blocks the stage from the audience. This ensures that fire does not spread to the audience if there is a fire onstage (or vice versa).

· Fly Rail: the part of the counter-weight system where the rope locks are located. Also, the area where the Fly operator stands. It can be found stage right on our main stage. See also Batten and Arbor.

· Glow Tape: light sensitive tape that will glow when the lights go out, enabling actors not to kill themselves on stairways in the dark.

· House: The auditorium where the audience sits when they watch the show

· In the House for Notes: What you say to the actors to indicate that they should gather in the auditorium to hear the director's suggestions and comments.

· Line: The words that the actors speak during a performance. Also, during rehearsals, the term actors use to let the stage manager know they don't remember what to say next and that they need to be prompted - short for "I don't remember my next line - please prompt me".

· Off-Book: When an actor no longer uses his or her script to deliver lines.

· On-Book: A role typically done by the ASM, AD or Stage Manager. They follow along in the script as actors say their lines, ready to give a line or correct a mistake. The actors themselves are "off book".

· Paper Tech: A meeting of the Director, Stage Manager, designers and, often the crew chiefs. This is where all the light changes, sound changes, props movements, fly movements and other backstage activities that occur at specific points are precisely determined and are documented in the Stage Manager's script and by each designer and crew chief.

· Photo Call: On main stage, the day when all crew members and actors are to report to have their pictures made for the program. There is also an Archive Photo Call for all stages after one of the performances. The Archive Photo Call is to take pictures of the production for the scrapbook. It involves actors not technical crews.

· Pit: Where the orchestra sits.

· Places: When actors and technical crews have been told that the production will start within five minutes and they are to be in place and ready.

· Plaster line: The plaster line is the most upstage point of the proscenium opening. It is where the proscenium meets the fire curtain smoke pocket.

· Invitational Dress: Final dress rehearsal when an audience has been invited (at no charge) to see the show. Each cast and crew member receives two tickets to a Preview for your family. Its one of the perks of working a show!

· Production Meetings: The weekly gathering of all departments (lights, costumes, props...) to discuss how preparations are going toward opening night.

· Props: Those things that an actor works with during the production that are not costume pieces. ("Mother, where did I put my book. Oh, nevermind, here it is.").

· Proscenium: the frame through which the audience views the stage.

· Running Crew: The technical crew who move furniture on and off the stage, bring in backdrops and other large set pieces.

· Running lights: The hidden lamps that have been set up to provide some light backstage so that actors and technical crews can see a little bit. Usually they have a blue "gel" covering them so that the light is not noticed by the audience.

· Set Dressing: The things that make the set look real but are never touched or moved by an actor (like the 400 record albums on the bookcase behind the actor).

· Speed-Through: The final rehearsal without sound, lights, running crew when the cast sits around a table and says their lines as rapidly as possible (but with emotions) in order to check for line accuracy and to bring the tempo of the show up.

· Spike Marks: Tape (or sometimes paint) markings on the stage that indicate where props, furniture, and sometimes actors, are to be placed.

· Stage left: The left side of the stage as seen by the actors looking out at the audience. From the audience's perspective, stage left is on the right (confusing huh!). See also stage right, up stage, and down stage.

· Stage right: The right side of the stage as seen by the actors looking out at the audience. See also stage left, up stage, and down stage.

· Strike: When you tear down the set, or you remove something ('strike the ashtray' means to take it off the stage)

· Techies: All those people who work on technical crews for a show. Our goal is happy Techies and a great show!

· Up stage: The part of the stage that is furthest from the audience. It is called "up" because some theatre stages are sloped ("raked") towards the audience, so it literally is the highest point of the stage.

· Wet Tech: The first technical rehearsal that includes actors and all departments (except costumes). This rehearsal is more for technical crews than it is for actors, so there may be stopping and starting.