MTYP would not be as warm or welcoming without our volunteers. Each year, more than 50 volunteers welcome our patrons at the door, scan their tickets, show them to their seats, and sit in the theatre – ready to help out at a moment’s notice.

Shirley is one of our dedicated volunteers. This month, she wrote about why she chooses to volunteer at MTYP.

My name is Shirley. I have been volunteering for 12 years at MTYP.

We are truly blessed to have MTYP, a world class youth theatre, right here in Winnipeg. I am privileged to have the opportunity to volunteer my time to be a part of this outstanding organization.

For me the theatre seed was planted many years ago in a one roomed school in Belair, Manitoba. Each year in November we started to practice for the “Christmas Concert” plays. On stage we could travel to new exciting places, explore feelings, sing (or not) and most of all have fun belonging on a new kind of team with others.

In Winnipeg, MTYP watered that seed. I wanted my children to be able to experience theatre and MTYP has been the best all round for classes and shows.  My great grandchildren now enjoy the shows. Dayton, 7, stood, eyes glazed in awe when Wendy from Peter Pan shook his hand.  “Gramma, that was Wendy!” he said. Recently, Sawyer, 3, got the hiccups from laughing so hard watching The Velveteen Rabbit. I will remember happily the (chilly) fun of being a part of MTYP’s first outdoor winter theatre show MTYP’s Midwinter Mosey.

MTYP offers inspiring classes with awesome Leaders guiding participants along imagination stretching paths. Challenging the mind, feeding the spirit while having fun in a warm, accepting atmosphere. MTYP Leaders encourage creativity. I believe theatre experiences promote personal growth and development. Connecting with others in a fun way enhances lives. Families get to share this fun at MTYP. I notice four adults often attend with one child. And the adults are swept into a new realm. The fiery inspiration in the eyes of our youth continues to grow through teen programs, touring shows, and Native Youth Theatre. MTYP shows offer intriguing themes for all ages, so creative they never cease to amaze me.

My love of theatre, education, and interacting with people of all ages makes volunteering at MTYP a perfect fit. As a Volunteer I receive much more than I give and I am truly grateful. I get to meet new people, to feel satisfaction knowing I’ve played a small, important part in keeping the show going and I gain a better understanding of the operational challenges. Most of all I get to be right in the heart of the theatre, immersed in the experience.  I love the aura.  How awesome it is ‘scooching’ along the floor with 3-year-olds meeting the famous Pooh Bear! You don’t spell “love” you feel it. – A.A Milne


Shirley with Jean Blandon who played Charlie Brown in MTYP's Midwinter Mosey.
Shirley with Jean Blandon who played Charlie Brown in MTYP's Midwinter Mosey.

New volunteers are interviewed and trained by Susan – MTYP’s Front of House and Facilities Manager who coordinates all MTYP’s volunteers. Arriving one hour prior to the show, volunteers are welcomed by staff. We register for free parking, pick up our name tag lanyards & flashlight, and chat with other volunteers. As each show is unique, Susan briefs volunteers before each show. MTYP’s flexible theatre can be transformed to suit each show, be it regular row seating, a stage in center with around seating, seating on the floor…..or whatever is needed. For public shows, volunteers scan tickets at the door, hand out programs and usher patrons to their seats. School children are ushered to their seats row by row with guidance for special seating arrangements by teachers. Once all are seated, volunteers sit in strategic spots where they can watch their section and be of assistance when necessary. MTYP has a sound proof Quiet Room from which patrons can hear and watch the show without disturbing others if a ‘break’ is needed. Relaxed performances are offered for patrons who benefit from a less formal theatre setting. The buzz of excitement quickly subsides as the lights dim and the show begins. After the performance, volunteers check for any debris left behind and have been known to search under the bleachers for lost mittens, boots, or treasures.

I am inspired by the effort and dedication of staff, volunteers, stage crew, artists, and supporters.

Thank you to Shirley for taking the time to write this post! If you are interested in volunteering at MTYP, send an email to Susan, here.