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New year brings new opportunities to get involved at Kingsport Theatre Guild

January 13th, 2014 10:30 am by Katherine Scoggins

New year brings new opportunities to get involved at Kingsport Theatre Guild

Volunteers work on a set at Kingsport Theatre Guild.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get more involved in your community by volunteering a few hours a month, then please keep reading. 

Kingsport Theatre Guild, a community theater which has been a part of the community for over 60 years, needs your help! Volunteers of all ages and levels of expertise are needed throughout the year to weave the magic that is live theater. 

Set builders and dressers - those with construction skills and decorating/design skills - usually construct the set(s) or scenery over the weekend prior to opening. Smaller set pieces may be built or modified at other times before the production opens. The set is then “dressed” with plants, rugs, furniture, drapes and art. Because sets are built to be temporary, not permanent, they are put together using screws, not nails, so that the wood can be used for multiple sets throughout the year. 

Imagine the creativity and work that goes into “Treasure Island,” for instance, or “Little Shop of Horrors.”

For those whose talents lie more in sewing, crafting and recycling, costume design and construction may be more to your liking. Bear in mind, however, that costumes are not just limited to clothing: operable wings, robotics, monsters, etc., all require creative and realistic-looking “skin,” hair/fur and clothing constructed from appropriate materials. (Think about the dancing tea pot, cups, silverware and napkins in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”)

While a show may require nothing more than pulling pieces from the theater’s existing costume closets or a few trips to Goodwill, occasionally a production will require period clothing which must be sewn and fitted (“Grease” or “Secret Garden,” for example). Good sewing skills are especially valuable for larger shows.

Like to haunt antiques stores or yard sales? Then props may be your calling. 

Most productions use hand props (small pieces like umbrellas) or larger pieces such as old televisions or luggage. And when a prop turns out to be too rare, precious or costly? It must be fabricated, so crafting skills are needed: think (fake) elaborately-decorated, multi-tiered wedding cakes, the interior of a library, or a full-service colonial tavern bar.  

Sound and light technicians require advanced training to set lights, but assistants are needed to run the boards and any special light or sound cues. Each show has its own lighting and sound design, so a reliable and competent group of assistants is necessary for each performance. Training is provided.

Having just finished KTG’s “Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” another very important volunteer job must be mentioned: that of “child wrangler.” This job is filled by men or women who possess high energy, are very organized and have the discipline of a drill sergeant. 

Children’s productions may involve anywhere from 10 to 50-plus children, ranging from 2 or 3 years of age to teenagers. Job responsibilities include making sure the children are in their costumes at the appropriate times, that they remain quiet backstage and are ready for their entrances on time, that they are gently encouraged and praised for their amazing talent/enthusiasm/smile/hair color, etc., and that nerves, fears, anxieties and boo-boos receive the necessary attention. It is perhaps for these reasons that parents usually fill the role of child wrangler (CW).

“It is a lot like herding cats,” according to Misty Moore, parent and volunteer who worked as either CW or assistant stage manager for all but one of the seven performances. “Our son has been in several KTG productions over the past few years and really loves acting. My husband had theater experience in college, so he understands a lot of what goes on both onstage and offstage and likes building sets. I am more comfortable backstage with small groups of children that are third- and fourth-graders, close to my son’s age. Above all, it’s important to stay patient and focused.” 

Of course, there are many other volunteer positions available at Kingsport Theatre Guild, from general office and box office, to cleaning out and organizing costume and prop closets, to ushering. If you would like to become involved with KTG, volunteers are always needed and appreciated! 

For more information, check out kingsporttheatre.org, email kingsporttheatreguild@gmail.com, or call 423-392-8427.

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