Little did we suspect back in the middle of March that we'd be in for a lengthy separation from our wonderful volunteers. Eerily enough, the last show before shutdown played on Friday the 13th which proved to be unlucky indeed. Since then our foyer has been still and silent, and there are no welcoming sentinels standing at the theatre doors ready to greet patrons and guide them to their seats. Neither are there smiling bar personnel, serving up a coffee or a wine before the show. We don't need reminding that our volunteers are part of the life blood of the MEC, providing dedicated and valuable service to us and the theatre going public.
Every few months we organise catch-ups and briefings to keep our volunteers informed and up to date with training and news. Sadly, these get-togethers are not possible right now, and we're missing those familiar faces. (Rumour has it that they may be missing us a little as well.) Since it is officially National Volunteer Week, we take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks to the tireless folk who keep the wheels turning here by donating their time and talents so enthusiastically.
To the outsider, it may not seem too difficult to turn up and attend the shows, but more often than not the ushers and bar workers don't get to see very much of the show at all. In the bar they're busy restocking fridges and shelves, washing glasses and tidying the foyer in time for interval. Inside the theatre they're assisting patrons with mobility issues, trying to discreetly prevent loud patrons from spoiling the show for others with incessant talking, forever asking people NOT to film or photograph the act or assisting latecomers to their seats with a trusty torch and steadying arm.
Events like children's theatre shows attended by large numbers of schools have the potential to be chaos unleashed, but in our volunteers' capable hands order is maintained and a good time is had by all. They are gems, one and all, and while we understand that this shut-down is necessary for everyone's safety, we are so looking forward to seeing them again. MEC vollies - if you're reading this now, we want to say that we miss you and we appreciate you and we thank you very much.