Is it Dreadfully fun being a Volunteer?

You betcha! When you volunteer for Night of Dread you are creating a moving, shared experience that brings people together and impacts community well-being through art, activism and solidarity.

And you have to admit, it’s incredibly fun to wear a big puppet like the Fear of Death Itself or dress up like the Bride and Groom of Death and perform to the raucous sounds and rhythms of the Kensington Horns and Maracatu Mar Aberto.

“Night of Dread sustains me each year… It’s become one of our family’s most cherished rituals.” 

Maggie Hutcheson, Block by Block Program Director at Toronto Ward Museum, Co-founder Department of Public Memory

From left to right: 1) From a pageant scenario: the Oligarchs Who Gobble Up the World 2) From the bonfire: the Death Dancers who waltz to the burning of our fears 3) From a pageant scenario: the Poultry of Peace overcomes the Fear of the Year and dances to the Giant Saxophone of Life.

What are the different ways that I can Volunteer?

Park Guides

Park Guides are absolutely essential to the smooth and safe running of the Night of Dread Pageant evening, both for the volunteer performers and professional artists and audience members watching.

They give volunteers and audience members directions to washrooms, puppet sign-out, the First Aid station, the different performance areas and installations throughout the evening

They also communicate to the Stage Manager or Event Manager any problems that they may observe so that the event can stay safe and fun for everyone.

They may assist with the fire watch at the bonfire or help keep an eye on the installations.

Park Guide vests and flashlights are provided.

Park Guides will also need to attend one orientation session.

Event Assistants

Leading up to the event, Event Assistants can help setup the puppet pickup area and set out signs to help organize performer puppet pickup and return.

Event Assistants can also help the Puppet Masters (experienced Clay and Paper Theatre puppeteers/performers) retrieve puppets, masks and costumes for Volunteer Puppeteers/Performers.

They help the Volunteer Puppeteers get in and out of puppets.

During the Pageant, Event Assistants can also be puppet spotters, staying close to puppeteers during the scenario performance and making sure they steer clear of people and obstacles.

They will also play a part during the end of the event when everything needs to be collected and put away and the staging area needs to be tidied.

Puppeteers/Character Performers

The Big Fears are backpack puppets and they require some strength and dexterity because you will be wearing the puppet for over an hour (before and during the scenario). These puppets are appropriate for adults.

The Small Fears are rod puppets which means they are fairly light and the rod fits into a pouch you tie around your waist. Most of these puppets are great for kids 10 and up.

This year we will also have available some of our traditional Night of Dread characters for people to dress up as and help animate the park. They include: the Bride and Groom of Death (great for a couple!); Fear Catchers who help collect fears from the community during the event; the Doom Cheerleading Squad (good for 4 friends together); and a Flag Bearer to carry the Night of Dread standard into the Pageant scenario performance.

From left to right: 1) Event Assistants 2) An array of Small Fear rod puppets 3) Fear Catchers who animate the Fear Catcher Beast and collect the audience’s fears for burning.

How do I sign up for this Dreadful opportunity?

First of all, read through our Volunteer Handbook. You’ll find more details about the Volunteer role you’re interested in, plus extremely important information about the time commitment required for each Volunteer position. This means you’ll find the time you need to show up and how long your commitment will be for the event evening. Plus the Handbook has some helpful tips on how to prepare for the weather for the Night of Dread Pageant. This is an outdoor event after all and we perform rain or shine.

If you have any questions or if you’re ready to sign up, please email us at volunteer.clayandpaper@gmail.com or call us at 416-708-3332.

Please click here for the Volunteer Handbook