As I write this I’m just home from the opening night of the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society (WRAPS) production of the one-woman show Shirley Valentine, which I was proud to have been able to direct. It came less than four months after WRAPS produced My Fair Lady, and while four months sounds like a long time, it’s not; at least not in the context of pulling off a major theatrical production.
In the run-up to Shirley Valentine a few people said to me that a one-woman show must be a lot easier than My Fair Lady. It’s true that there are major differences. The former has one actor, two locations and sets, one scene change, and three costumes (from the 1980s, so anything with shoulder pads got a thumbs up), while the latter had 26 actors, six locations and sets, 17 scene changes, and more than 100 costumes that had to look appropriate for 1912. But when I counted the number of “behind the scenes” people who made both plays happen, I found that it took 36 people to produce My Fair Lady, and 25 for Shirley Valentine.
Why so many for a play with only one actor? That’s because the amount of work—set design and construction, painting, props, lighting, stage management, scene changes, and much more—is similar no matter what the production. It takes a lot of backstage people to make whoever’s on the stage look and sound their best, whether that’s one woman or a cast of more than two dozen.
The amazing thing is that everyone involved is a volunteer. No one gets paid to sew and iron the curtains, or design and build the set, or set up the seating, or bake and serve goodies at intermission, or design and print the program. Everyone is doing what they do, giving many hours of their time, because they want to do this for the community.
And WRAPS is just one example of this generosity of time and spirit, which I use because it’s the one I know best. Without volunteers, there’d be no soup day every Wednesday in Spences Bridge, no Christmas hampers in Ashcroft and Cache Creek, no museum in Clinton. The events and festivals we enjoy—Desert Daze, Graffiti Days, Canada Day celebrations, the Clinton Ball—wouldn’t happen without countless people giving up their time to make them happen, with no compensation other than the fact that these events make our communities the places we love and are proud of. And I haven’t even touched on the many service clubs and organizations—the Lions, Rotary, the Legion, and many more—that do so much for us.
So if you enjoy attending any of the events I’ve mentioned here, please consider volunteering some of your time for one of them. I guarantee that you’ll be welcomed with open arms.