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The Abbey Theatre is run almost entirely by volunteers. Every single performance requires eight people to help out front-of-house, so there’s always a need for people to offer their services for an hour or three. You should definitely give volunteering here a try – it isn’t hard and can be very rewarding indeed.
Most of our volunteer roles don’t require previous experience. And providing you’re over 18, age isn’t a barrier. Our volunteers range from teenagers to octogenarians. You certainly don’t need to be an expert in theatre, or even be a keen theatregoer.
When we say volunteering is rewarding, we mean the reward of being part of a community, meeting and making friends with people from all walks of life. We’re also talking about the reward of giving something back. Who knows – by volunteering at the Abbey Theatre, you might even be helping launch the career of a future star.
Volunteering here is also a great way to learn. You might want to develop bar skills, people skills or even work your way up to being a House Manager. But learning isn’t essential. If your preference is to stay within your comfort zone, that’s wonderful too. And there’ll always be someone who’s done it before to guide you.
Try a shift to see if it suits
To be a volunteer, you will need to join the theatre either as a member of the Company of Ten or as a Friend. But before you pay to join, we’re happy for you to turn up for a trial shift to see if it suits. If it does, you can join afterwards. If it doesn’t, there’ll be no hard sell and certainly no hard feelings.
Click on the titles below to discover what our Front of House volunteering roles entail. If these don’t appeal, take a look at our Membership page and you’ll see lots of other opportunities to help at the Theatre, including sound and lighting, marketing and Box Office roles.
SERVING TEA & COFFEE
Many patrons make a beeline for our refreshment hatch as soon as the interval begins, where they can buy coffee, tea or a selection of chocolate biscuits.
We need people to run the refreshment hatch at almost every production. Generally, there’ll be two of you working together as a team, and the whole shift takes only about an hour.
Basically, you’ll turn up before the interval to set out cups, saucers, biscuits and sugar, and make the tea and the coffee. You’ll serve people during the interval itself, taking the money and handing back change. Ideally you’ll make some welcoming small talk too, such as asking them if they’re enjoying the show.
After the interval it’s a matter of tidying up and loading the dishwaster, and that’s it. You’re good to go, although of course you’re welcome to stay awhile and chat with fellow volunteers.
SERVING AT THE BAR
Our bar is usually open before a performance and during the interval. Our bar volunteers, who usually work in pairs and under the guidance of an experienced bar manager, help to open up half an hour before the show and are soon dishing out the alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and bar snacks.
Besides serving and taking the money, other duties include keeping the bar area tidy, preparing pre-ordered interval drinks and filling and emptying the dishwasher. Don’t worry if you’ve never done bar work before. We’ll happily show you how everything works, including pint pulling, which is the fun bit.
Working behind the bar is extremely sociable, and you get to chat to lots of different people. So if you’ve ever fancied yourself as a Bet Lynch, a Peggy Mitchell or a Sam Malone, now’s your chance.
Stewards also work in pairs, and do lots of different things in their shift. Best of all, stewards get to see the play. (Although you mustn’t forget that your main duty is looking after the audience, even when the play is on.)
You’ll arrive about forty minutes before the show, pick up your badge and your torch and say hello to the House Manager, who’ll be your boss for the evening.
The shift begins by selling programmes on the desk in the foyer, where patrons might also ask you questions, such as where the toilets are, or how long the performance is. Before the curtain goes up you’ll move to the doors of the auditorium to check tickets and direct audience members to their seats.
During the show you’ll be inside the auditorium sitting at the back, perhaps admitting a latecomer or two. During the interval you might sell ice cream in the foyer. After the interval, you’ll be back at your seat. After the show’s finished you’ll see the audience safely out of the auditorium and on their way home, pick up lost property or litter and return any abandoned glasses to their rightful place at the bar.
When you’re a steward you really feel like you’re looking after an audience. This role particularly suits people with a ready smile and a knack for making visitors feel welcome.