Kings Playhouse, Georgetown
The King’s Playhouse is an arts and cultural landmark dating back more than a century ago.
The original Playhouse was built in 1887 when the bustling seaside port was the hub of Kings County during the shipbuilding era.
The Georgetown Amateur Society hosted cultural and musical events at the original King’s Playhouse in the 1800s.
The community watched in disbelief as the original Playhouse burned down during a raging storm in 1983. Before the ashes were cold, Georgetown residents came together and fund raised to rebuild with additions and updates. The new building opened in 1984.
The spirit of the King’s Playhouse in Georgetown is as strong today as it was in its original glory days. It’s still the cultural hub of Kings County. The draw of arts and culture is one more reason why people want to come to Georgetown, and that benefits the local economy.
Haley Zavo, Executive Director of the King’s Playhouse, was born and raised in Georgetown and volunteered and performed at the King’s Playhouse. She left Georgetown to pursue an education in music and went on to a career working with people with disabilities in Cape Breton.
After living off-Island for nine years, Haley seized the opportunity to return to Georgetown with her partner, who is a photographer, and their two young children. She has gone full circle from performing on stage to a position behind the scenes with the Playhouse. “It’s not often you get to return to your home community and work in the theatre,” says Haley.
“We offer diverse programing that meets everyone’s needs and interests. We seek more and more ways to engage with our community by offering unique and fun community celebrations. As well, we find new ways to partner with community groups and other arts organizations to present their music or their theatre.
“During the slower season, we offer educational outreach such as musical theatre classes, hiring show performers, and hosting community events, conferences, and meetings. We offer a number of arts and cultural classes and workshops throughout the year.”
About the staff
“We have about eight theatre staff during the high summer/fall season,” says Haley. “Staff tiles include Facility Support, Ticket Box Office, Production Assistants, a Head Carpenter, Technical, Production Manager, Administrator intern, and a Catering Chef for conferences and meetings held on location.
Theatre Mentorship program
“During the high season we offer employment through the Theatre Mentorship program. The program offers hands-on training to the people interested in the technical and administrative side of theatre. In the last two years, the interns have been mentored by the Head Technician, who is also our Production Manager. They developed skills to prepare them for employment in the technical side of theatre.”
“We hire local performers, actors, actresses, musicians, and theatre directors,” says Haley. “It’s an opportunity to gain skills and to increase our theatre repertoire.
“We also hire new and emerging artists such as singer/songwriters, directors, and dancers looking for the opportunity to increase their skills.”
Volunteering develops employability skills
“We welcome volunteers,” says Haley. “All our front of house positions are voluntary.
“Most of us who have found careers in theatre arts started out as volunteers. Gaining the skills you need to work in theatre builds your resumé and helps develop a portfolio. Most of the people we hired for the summer season this year have volunteered with us in the past.
“What we look for in volunteers or when we hire is enthusiasm and interest. If they are able to show they want to be here, we are more likely to create a place for them.
“Volunteerism can be a stepping stone that leads to employment. Almost everything I’ve ever done started as volunteer work and then developed into a job opportunity. I believe volunteerism often offers a positive path to employment on PEI.
“In theatre, volunteering develops skills in customer service, communication, public speaking, problem solving, and community building. It also develops self-confidence and a sense of pride in community.
“We have been slowly increasing our paid staff, so we don’t need as many volunteers. We have 10 to 20 volunteers who we can call upon.”
Typical interview questions volunteers are asked
- “What do you like to do in your spare time? “The answer offers insight in how we might be able to use a person’s gifts within our theatre,” says Haley.
- “If your resources were unlimited, what would you do at the theatre?”
“In theatre, there is something for everyone. Each position is equally important. If we don’t have someone sweeping the stage, there is no point having dancers. Each role has its own part to play.”
What is the hiring procedure?
The Board of Directors is responsible for the hiring.
How to stand out during the hiring process
“Demonstrate your creativity,” says Haley. “It’s really important in the theatre field to have your own creative ideas and to be excited about them.”
When working for the company, what are the keys to successful employment?
“You need to be flexible, because it’s not a nine-to-five job,” says Haley. “You have to be prepared to work when needed, which can be late nights and early mornings.”
Future business plans
“We are always interested in expanding our partnerships with other organizations,” says Haley.
To apply, drop by the theatre, telephone or email Haley.