For 65 years, volunteers have made the theatre world go ‘round at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. A staple in the arts community, these theatre-lovers perform a variety of roles from ushering, to helping facilitate pre-show chats to even leading the organization through positions on their Board.

“Come show time, our volunteers are mission critical,” Royal MTC’s Artistic Director Kelly Thornton says of this crucial role. Before Royal MTC opens their theatre to patrons, they first open it to their volunteers. This hardworking group of people arrive 90 minutes early to help prepare the theatre for guests, scan tickets, assist patrons to their seats and wish them farewell after the show. Volunteers also come before a production opens to get a volunteer-only sneak peek for them and a guest during a show’s final technical dress rehearsal.

Seeing a free show during the technical dress rehearsal or during their shift is definitely a perk, but most volunteers do it for the love of supporting Winnipeg’s theatre community. Many are long-time subscribers who just want to lend a helping hand.

Royal MTC’s volunteers are a committed cohort, and each proudly wears a button that indicates the number of years they’ve been volunteering at the theatre. Only recently has the organization realized that their highest button, one that says “40+ years”, is no longer sufficient and “50+ years” buttons will need to be made.

With up to twelve shows a week, in two theatre, volunteers can choose a schedule that works best with their lifestyle. Some even choose to align their volunteer schedule with those of their friends’ so they have a built in buddy to watch the performance with.

While the theatre season typically runs from October to May, drama-lovers can get their theatre and volunteer fix over the summer during the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. Fringe Festival has a huge array of volunteer opportunities and shows to see, boasting over a hundred performing companies per year made possible with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

Festival Manager Tori Popp says of the Fringe volunteers, “From ticket sellers and ushers to our outdoor site, our volunteers are a vital piece of the operations for the Festival, and we could not do any of it without them!”

The tireless efforts of volunteers are what holds the arts together across the city. Thornton offered a heartfelt sentiment to volunteers, “Thank you to all the volunteers that pour your heart and smarts into our work.”

Both Royal MTC and Fringe are looking to bolster their roster of volunteers. While their ranks are full of amazing and dedicated volunteers, there is always room for more. If sharing your time with the theatre sparks joy, you are encouraged to apply.

Future Royal MTC volunteers can apply at https://royalmtc.ca/volunteer.aspx or email [email protected]

Future Fringe volunteers can apply at https://www.winnipegfringe.com/Volunteer.aspx or email [email protected]