Check out our Front of House, Backstage, Scene Shop and Administrative volunteer opportunities below. Then let us know you’re intersted by calling (402) 553-4890 or filling out our Volunteer Interest Form!
For most patrons of the Playhouse, it is the “out front” volunteers with whom they have the most frequent or direct contact. Volunteers augment our professional staff to help us meet our objective of making every patron’s theatre-going experience a pleasant one.
The work is not difficult, but it does require an interest in assisting Playhouse patrons — while paying careful attention to detail. Depending on the shift worked, Box Office volunteers are scheduled on a show-by-show or a non-show dependent basis. Volunteers on all Box Office shifts earn complimentary tickets to any performance during the opening week of the next production after their shift schedule ends.Volunteers serve in three main areas as follows:
Box Office Representatives/Hosts
Volunteers augment our professional staff in the Box Office during business hours. Working two- or three-hour shifts, volunteers sell tickets using computer ticketing software and answer questions to OCP patrons. Volunteers answer phones and work the window. (All volunteers attend a short training session to learn how to use the computerized ticketing system.)
Beginning an hour before each performance, volunteers (called “Hosts”) are stationed at the Box Office windows to hand out “will call” tickets (tickets held at the theatre for pickup on performance night) and distribute audio headsets.
Ushers help patrons find their seats in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre or Howard Drew Theatre and hand out copies of The Prompter, our theatre program. Ushers arrive one hour prior to curtain time in order to become familiar with specifics for that performance and to review emergency procedures. When the performance begins, they go to their seats, which have been set aside for them. During intermission, the Ushers sell refreshments in the lobbies. Ushers work in teams of seven or eight people. The House Manager schedules the teams for the entire season just before August of each calendar year.
A night out at the theatre should be an “event” for the patron. To help set that mood from the moment the playgoer enters the building, volunteer greeters are stationed at each of the three public entrances to the Playhouse. As patrons arrive, Greeters hold the door open, offer a friendly greeting and point out the Box Office and the performance locations. If someone needs assistance climbing or descending steps, an ambassador is nearby to help. Greeters arrive one hour prior to curtain time, check in with the Box Office, and remain at their posts until five minutes before the curtain. Subject to availability, each Greeter is given one complimentary seat for that evening’s performance. A volunteer schedules Greeters for the entire season in July of each calendar year.
The running crews are the volunteers who run all the backstage equipment during a production. Playhouse productions run approximately four–six weeks. The Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre productions run Wednesday through Sunday with two shows on Sunday. The Howard Drew Theatre runs Thursday through Sunday with one matinee on Sunday. On the Hawks Mainstage, volunteers can work every night of a production or a minimum of three nights per week. Volunteers who work every night of a production will qualify to receive compensation. In the Drew Theatre, two nights a week are the minimum. The running crews arrive approximately one hour before the performance begins to preset all stage pieces.
The lights are controlled by a computerized lighting system that is located in a booth directly behind the audience. The Lightboard Operator’s job is to follow the Stage Manager’s cues and execute the lighting cues. He/she also checks to see that all the lighting instruments are working. Other duties include the operation of the house and lobby lights plus chiming in the audience and checking to make sure the lobby is clear before starting the show.
The sound is controlled from the same booth as the lighting. The Sound Operator is responsible for all the taped effects that occur during a production. All taped effects are on a computer. The operation of fixed or wireless microphones are also the responsibility of the sound operator.
A spotlight is a lighting instrument that produces a concentrated beam of light. The Spotlight Operator changes the color and size of the light and aims the light and follows the actors. Spotlights are located in the ceiling of the auditorium above the audience.
The Flyrail Crew are the technicians who pull the ropes that make the hanging scenery above the stage go up and down. The flyrail is located off stage right.
The Shift Crew is responsible for all the moving scenery on stage. Most scenery pieces will be on castered platforms called wagons. The Shift Crew also places and removes furniture and props during scene changes.
Properties are all the set dressings and small articles used in a production, such as furniture, books, dishes, lamps, tools, luggage, etc. The Properties Crew makes sure all the props are in the right place before the performance and between each scene.
Special Effects Crew
The Playhouse uses a wide variety of effects to create the theatre magic our audiences see on stage. The effects crew operates hydraulic, pneumatic and electronically controlled stage machinery. Other special effects equipment generate fog, smoke, wind, snow, bubbles, confetti, pyrotechnic effects, etc.
The Wardrobe Crew keep track of all the costumes during a performance and assist the actors during quick changes.
Set construction encompasses a wide variety of construction techniques and materials. Some of the materials used in scenery are wood, metal, foam, plastic and fabric. Projects in the scene shop depend on the degree of experience of the volunteer. The scene shop is a well-stocked and well-equipped facility and is responsible for building a wide variety of projects from small wooden rivets to computer-controlled moving scenery weighing thousands of pounds.
Volunteers interested in the lighting area can learn to hang, focus, patch and color the lighting instruments. The Playhouse uses a computerized lighting system to control all the instruments used in a production. Some other devices used in the electrics area are strobe lights, star curtains, rope light, black light, mirror balls, effects and slide projectors, pyrotechnics and electronically controlled effects and machinery. It is not necessary to have an electronics background to work in this area.
Props are anything that is used to dress up the set from furniture and curtains to books and food. Many of our props are pulled from our extensive stock or bought or borrowed from local businesses and antique stores. Some props are made from scratch at the Playhouse while others must be searched for. If you are interested in building, finding, gathering and returning props, we have a place for you in the properties department.
Administrative volunteers play a vital role in the everyday operations of the Playhouse. Greeting guests and answering phones are the duties associated with this important volunteer position.