Volunteer at an independent theater in Buenos Aires
Most volunteer placements include offering help of some sort to the underprivileged. However, in this project you get to work with the hip arty in-crowd of Palermo, also known as the ‘Hollywood of Buenos Aires’.
This small theater prides itself on expressing independent art forms, with none of the commercial blockbuster attitudes that dominate the Hollywood scene. More than just a theater, it is really a cultural center featuring an eclectic program full of live music, theatre plays and art performances. In the afternoons there are also acting classes for children of the neighborhood.
What makes this project so unique is that the performers are encouraged to step out of the box, let their creative juices flow liberally while getting up and close to the audience. The space has room for maximum 80 equally free minded art devotees that all enjoy the personal interaction and cozy living room atmosphere, while having a glass of wine and some superbly prepared canapés by the in-house chef.
Ine van der Stock from Belgium volunteered at the theatre and in continuation will share her view of what it is like to be involved with this project and its crew:
I was assigned to be the personal assistant of the lighting guy. While he moved around with a huge ladder from left to right to adjust the spotlights over the stage, am I positioned at the switchboard waiting for his signals to switch the different sets of lamps on and off. Tough job, but entertaining nonetheless!
After that we prepare the theater hall, a lovely little area where the audience is seated on sofas, cushions or chairs at tables with flowers in candlelight. During the performances it is also allowed to drink and eat something which creates a very pleasant and unpretentious ambiance. Luckily we get to enjoy a warm meal in between preparation and stage time as well.
Before every show I get to welcome the guests, cut their tickets and ask them to switch off their cell phones. At the end of the evening I must repeat about 20 times where the toilet is and say goodbye to everyone again, with the Argentinean kisses of course. I also helped tidying up the theatre, cleaning the plates and glasses and with preparing the programs.
My colleagues are very friendly and social, and mostly men (including a few customary Don Juan’s). They were all very keen to teach me the ropes but also eager to hear about my experiences and travels. Interestingly they all had other occupations in their ‘real lives’ during the day; one has a record studio and others are studying or working as an actor, and no one seemed to need much sleep at all.
Now they know that I am qualified in marketing they also asked for some promotional tips. The idea of introducing a loyalty card was greatly received. I also gave suggestions on how to apply for a grant or sponsorships in Europe.
I was surprised by the amount and quality of the shows. It was very interesting to see how a theatre transforms in preparation for a show, including its artists. During the shows I didn’t need to work and could enjoy the performance just like the rest with an empanada and vino. I’ve seen quite a lot, from an experimental jazz musical to an eccentric clown’s act for adults!
Overall, I really enjoyed the 4 weeks I spent at this lovely theatre and even though I have had my cultural doses for the rest of the year, I wished we had more venues like this at home as well!
If you are interested in participating at this unconventional theatre, a background in theater productions is desirable, but an interest in the progressive arts is a must!
Please realize that you need to be flexible with your working hours because the performances are scheduled towards the end of the week and on the weekends.
For more info please contact Volunteer Work Latin America referring to the volunteer project in Buenos Aires: CT08.