Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | March 23, 2011

Eeeek. How’d I volunteer to do that??

Yes, the spring musical, Once Upon A Mattress, is quickly approaching and suddenly there is a flurry of activity that is piling up.

Costumes.  Set building. Programs. Tickets. Fittings.  Painting. More fittings. Props.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t an organizational meeting with actors and their families, so there has been a grassroots effort to get organized and source the stuff we need.

Yes, there has been a series of challenges and crises and annoyances…the building construction being delayed past the previous estimate of January completion, diva behavior (totally unjustified), and squashed timelines for set construction…but there has been an AMAZING response to calls for help.

At first I had volunteered to work on costumes like I have for the last couple of plays.  I asked my partner in crime from last year if she would join in.  And then we started asking the actors and their families to come to sewing work days.  For two weekends we had bunch of people working on robes and hats and armor.  No, we’re not finished yet, but we are really ahead of the game with 2 weeks before costume parade and 4.5 weeks before opening.

Then people/parents started asking me questions about how the production was going to get sets built.  That lead to some MARVELOUS people getting involved with the construction.  The teacher brought in a friend who designed the set and the parents organized a group of people who could build.  That group includes people who have experience building sets for the local theater productions for YEARS!

And then I mentioned to my boss that we needed paint.  Suddenly he hooks me up with a client of his who runs a paint shop!!  They asked their supplier to donate the 10 gallons of primer, and gave us every can of mistint/overstock latex paint they had haunting their clearance section. I took in our leftovers from home improvement projects.  My sister gave me some and bought us some brushes and rollers.   Husby asked people at work about the leftover paint used for exhibits at Chabot Space and Science Center.  We got those, too.  40 GALLONS IN TOTAL.

Then I met with another parent who asked about tix, programs, ushers, concessions, and security.  She has stepped in to help handle the house side of the production.  I’m the one who is coordinating volunteers, sending emails, the organizing costumes and set building. No, I don’t build them, but I work with the set building people to help them stay clear on design and try to make the plans reality.  This is freeing up the teacher to work on the play with the students and musicians and choreographer.

But the best thing?  Community.

The kids are getting involved with the costume making and set building.  They have adopted the mindset that this is THEIR show and that they can make it happen…not just by singing and dancing and acting, but by working on the grunt work that turns to magic.    And families are saying “thank you for inviting me”!  I just tell them” Baby…we want you here!!”  This is inclusiveness at it’s finest.

So, yes, I’ve become the Lead Volunteer and Cheerleader of The Sow’s Ear Sweatshop.  I am so proud to be working with this team of volunteers and enthusiastic students.    And I’m hoping that this is the start of something special that helps to support the performing arts at our school.

Opening night for Once Upon A Mattress is April 28th.  Here is the website link for you to get tickets.  Come support our production!


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