The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond is holding a special taster event on Saturday 15 July from 11am to 1pm for anyone interested in joining its active team of volunteers.
The Theatre, which holds the distinction of being the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form, runs almost entirely with the help of almost one hundred volunteers who take on a huge variety of roles from helping out with evening performances to conducting daytime ‘behind-the-scenes’ guided tours.
All of these roles will be introduced and explained on the day, and there will also be an opportunity to have a tour of the Theatre, chat to current volunteers over light refreshments, and find out more about the many areas of Theatre life in an informal Q&A session.
Everyone is most welcome to attend. No previous experience or skills are necessary as full training is offered for each role. Volunteers can also choose how much of their time they would like to give, whether it is the occasional hour or more regular sessions.
“We are lucky to have a whole army of wonderful and dedicated people who work very hard to make this gem of a theatre such an exciting and thriving hub of activity”, said Clare Allen, the Theatre’s Chief Executive. “We are always keen to take on new volunteers and we thought this open event would be a great way for people to come and find out a bit more about what’s on offer. There is absolutely no obligation to sign up for anything on the day but we guarantee a warm welcome to everyone,” she added.
There are various volunteering opportunities available, from working in the Theatre box office and bar to front of house duties and showing people to their seats for a performance. Anyone interested in the more technical aspects of a show can learn about lighting and sound and other stage management skills, while others enjoy helping with the Theatre’s dynamic youth theatre.
In addition to its live performances, the Theatre runs guided heritage tours and many people have trained as guides or assist with the meeting and greeting of daytime visitors. There is also an important Theatre archive, and a group of volunteers have been specially trained to assist with the cataloguing and storage of these items. A costume group meets regularly to create Georgian costumes and accessories.
“I have been helping out at the Theatre for years and there aren’t many things I’ve not tried!” said volunteer Lynne Kemp. “I regularly work in the box office and help with shows but I have also parcelled up hundreds of beans for a schools competition, knitted thousands of props for the pantomimes, and last week saw me dressed up at a family fun day on the Garrison. You can choose to do as much as you like but it is always great fun and I have met many people and made lasting friendships”, she added.
All volunteers take part in a comprehensive induction session, receive full training for their roles and are supported by Theatre staff and other volunteers in a buddy system. As well as various social activities, volunteers receive special discounts in the retail and bar area and free tickets are available as part of a rewards scheme.