December 15, 2019

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Opinion

Living on the fringe

Volunteer still in love with festival after 20 years

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/7/2018 (510 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When she was a teenager, Saz Massey saw a poster that advertised volunteer opportunities at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.

Given her passion for theatre and improv, and given that she had attended the festival in the past, she decided to sign up.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Saz Massey (left) and her partner, Bre Brown, volunteer at the Pantages Theatre during the Fringe on Thursday. Massey has been volunteering with the Fringe since she was a teenager.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Saz Massey (left) and her partner, Bre Brown, volunteer at the Pantages Theatre during the Fringe on Thursday. Massey has been volunteering with the Fringe since she was a teenager.

"The first year I volunteered, I fell in love," says Massey, 36. "It’s 20 years later, and I’m still doing it. That love’s still there."

In recent years, Massey has recruited her partner, Bre Brown, to volunteer at the festival.

They are two of the hundreds of volunteers who are helping to run this year’s festival, which started Wednesday.

Brown started volunteering with the festival four years ago.

In addition to allowing her to spend more time with Massey, volunteering at the festival gives Brown the opportunity to do something different from her day job.

"I’ve been in my current job for 15 years, so it was nice to get out and do something different and meet new people," the 33-year-old says.

At the festival, Massey and Brown work as team leaders. Leaders help to create a positive environment for the team at each venue, training and supporting the volunteers.

They work closely with venue technicians to make sure everything runs on time, ensure that patrons are safe and comfortable, provide customer service and act as festival ambassadors.

"When I’m on shift, I want everybody to have as much fun and love at the fringe festival as much as I do," Massey says.

She especially enjoys talking to the crowd when they are lined up outside the venue, waiting to see the show.

"I used to bring my yo-yo and do yo-yo tricks, or play my ukulele, but I think I’m probably a little too old for that now, so I don’t do it anymore," she says, laughing.

Brown, who describes herself as "a pretty shy person," enjoys volunteering at the festival because it’s an opportunity to meet new people.

"For the most part, it’s such a positive experience and everyone’s really happy," she says. "Seeing the city come alive and seeing how many Winnipeggers are into the performing arts and theatre is really great."

Massey likes it so much that she’s only missed one year since she started volunteering. In 2011, she wrote and starred in a one-woman show at the festival, which meant she didn’t have time to volunteer.

Although producing the show was a positive experience, Massey missed volunteering.

"There’s a really solid community of volunteers at the festival, some of whom have been volunteering since day one," she says. "It’s a family."

Brown enjoys volunteering because she sees it as a way to give back to a festival that means a lot to her.

"I love the festival and… it doesn’t really happen without volunteers," she says.

That’s something festival organizers are constantly reminding volunteers, Massey adds.

"The Fringe festival does a really good job of letting us know how appreciated we are," she says. "I get a lot of intrinsic rewards for volunteering, but it’s really nice to know we’re appreciated and supported."

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

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