Hamilton Fringe Festival volunteers: the unsung heroes

This article was originally published in CBC Hamilton, Jul. 25, 2012

They dress in black T-shirts and are always on the move.

Sometimes, they carry a yellow bucket.

They are the backbone of the Fringe theatre, the unsung heroes who make it work.

You will find them selling and taking tickets, or at the front door, welcoming patrons into the theatre or collecting donations in the trademark Fringe yellow plastic bucket.

They are the Fringe Festival volunteers.

Each year, approximately 95 volunteers dedicate their time and energy to the Fringe.

Allison Jones is one of them.

Jones, a Fringe volunteer for the past four years, said Fringe has its own personality.

“It is nice to see what it is and its other incarnations.”

Jones teaches English at George Brown College and Sociology at Mohawk College but finds time for the Fringe during the summer.

Her interest in backstage work led her to the Fringe.

“I’ve always enjoyed being behind the scenes, seeing something accomplished, seeing the inner workings and actors when they are not on stage.”

Jones said she is proud that Hamilton is considered as a part of the national Fringe family that stretches across the country.

“It feels good to have Hamilton considered amongst the national collection of Fringes,” said Jones.

While Jones is a veteran, Brendan Leon is new to the Fringe volunteering scene.

Leon distributes flyers, sets up show venues and works at the box office in the Hamilton Theatre Inc. venue on MacNab Street North.

“Everything is new to me. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to be involved,” said Leon, who recently graduated from Kinesiology at University of Western Ontario.

Others like Nancie Mleczko just can’t get enough of the Fringe.

She calls herself a “volunteer junkie,” who became hooked in 2006 when she met Peter Ormond, whose play “Occupy: The Musical” is performing at this year’s Fringe.

Mleczko’s reason for volunteering is simple: “Because I meet great people. It’s a collective place for artists, musicians and performers to come together.”

Mleczko has an impressive volunteer profile. It is four pages long.

Volunteer Hamilton named her one of this year’s “Hometown Heroes,” an award bestowed to volunteers leading by example.

Visit the Artwood Artbar, the Fringe Clubhouse at 15 Calbourne Street to meet with Fringe volunteers before/after the show.

Have a look a some snapshots from the Fringe Festival on our Facebook page here. You can find a comprehensive list of Fringe plays here.