Theatre Company seeks new blood… how fresh is yours?

By David F. Rooney
The Revelstoke Theatre Company is seeking new members/volunteers so that it can continue offering high-quality live theatrical productions to its legion of fans in Revelstoke.
I recently interviewed Chairman Martin Ralph about this. Here’s what he had to say: 

Martin Ralph
Martin Ralph

Question: During the Revelstoke Theatre Company’s recent AGM you mentioned that it needs new volunteers… what kind of volunteers are you looking for?
Answer: We are always looking for new people in all areas of production, such as actors, directors, producers, technical crew, backstage crew, costumes, makeup, front of house and other areas. We also look for active board members who have the time and interest to guide the business and operations of the Theatre Company, and its goals and future. As the overall full-time resident population of Revelstoke has been decreasing over the past few years, so has the number of people we have available to cast and create shows, and staff them with adequate numbers of running crew.
Question: Correct me if I’m wrong but I presume you are looking for members/slash volunteers. Is that correct? Or do you distinguish between the two?
Answer: That is correct. We call all our people members. Our members are volunteers.
Question: What has the RTC’s history been like when it comes to volunteers and members?
Answer: Years ago, in the days of Mount Mackenzie Playhouse and prior, we had many dozens of active volunteers who could be called on at a moment’s notice for anything. And many more patrons of the arts we could also rely on when needed. It wasn’t difficult to draw people out for auditions, and it was extremely rare that we couldn’t cast and produce a play. Sometimes as many as three or four plays in a season.  Now it is more difficult finding those numbers, and the right people to cast in shows.  This season, for example, we had scheduled our fall production with a number of one acts and shorts, but we couldn’t cast the shows because we were unable to get enough people out for auditions, despite that the auditions were widely advertised.
Question: What is the major attraction for volunteers and members?
Answer: When I talk with members, everyone’s interest seems to be unique, but for the most part people want to be involved in the excitement of putting shows together and rehearsing them, and then ultimately performing them before live audiences. It is indeed a thrill, whether you are on stage or backstage. Some people get involved because they like a particular show we are doing, so they are there specifically for that show, and then sadly we lose them. This was a common occurrence with the large-scale musicals we produced. There are upwards of a hundred people involved in musicals, but then we are not able to retain most of them for future shows. We obviously very much appreciate any time anyone is able to give to Theatre Company productions and events, but it is great when people remain involved!
Question: What turns them off?
Answer: I don’t often hear complaints of things that fail or turn people off because people really do enjoy their experience. I know that sometimes the rigorous and long rehearsal schedules can be more challenging than people might expect when they first get involved in a production. The average new person comes into a production with no idea how much goes into putting it together, and how much time is involved. It is definitely a personal commitment and a labor of love. But everyone walks away from these experiences amazed at how much is involved and how polished the performances become. The Theatre Company has high production values, as you know, David. That is an awesome thing for new members to witness and experience.
Question: How do you reconcile that?
Answer: At this point many of the mainstays of the RTC are aging and, perhaps, getting a little tired.
Sooner or later everyone runs out of steam.
Question: Realistically… how long can you continue relying on the aging long-term members such as Denny and Lyn Kaulback, Brad Binnington and even yourself?
Answer: Simply put, we can’t.  And we are aware of this reality. Our strong core group is aging and becoming tired, but that is mainly because of the limited numbers of new and active members, and the same few core people carrying everything.  But I can already see things looking up. As you saw at the AGM, the majority of people who came out were young people, all of whom are excited about getting involved. I was so pleased when I looked around the table and saw so many young people! This is great! I have spoken with each of them since the meeting and their energy and ideas are wonderful! And inspiring to me… being one of those “aging long-term members.”
Question: What else would you like to say about this?
Answer: We are looking to the future and very shortly we will be working on strategic planning sessions, where we are going, what we want to do and be, and how we educate our members, and create a place where many people want to be involved in everything we do and enjoy coming back. I consider it a time of development, growth and evolution for the company, and I see some great things ahead in our future and for the community.
For more information about the Revelstoke Theatre Company please click here to visit their website.