Everyone is welcome to get involved in the Beltane Fire Society and our festivals. Whether you’re a seasoned performer or you have no previous experience, whether you are interested in technical, support or behind-the-scenes roles, we are happy to meet you!
It’s very easy to join our community, and there are two main opportunities each year to do so. Read on to learn about our Open Meetings, Open Practices, and what sort of roles are available in Beltane Fire Society.
Who can join Beltane Fire Society?
Honestly, everyone! So long as you’re aged 18+ (for legal reasons). Previous performance experience is not required (although certain skills may be desirable for some groups) and there are also many non-performance roles to consider, including tech, photographers and stewards.
Please note that apart from a very small number of essential part-time paid positions (Event Coordinator, Online Communications Coordinator and Administrator) Beltane Fire Society is entirely run by volunteers, including the Board of Trustees. Festival performers and members of production groups also take part on a voluntary basis. In return, we work hard as a community to make taking part a rich and rewarding experience with volunteers gaining new skills, new friends and unforgettable experiences.
I have a disability – can I still take part?
Yes. Although some groups are very physically-focused in nature with performances involving, for example, acrobatics or drumming over long periods of time, there are plenty of non-physically-demanding roles (even within performance groups) and we do our best to adapt to include everyone.
We are an inclusive and welcoming Society and if you have specific concerns, please feel free to get in touch through volunteers[at]beltane[dot]org and our Volunteers Coordinator will be happy to answer your questions.
How much of my time will Beltane or Samhuinn take?
The simplest answer is “How much have you got?”. Most performance groups meet to plan and rehearse twice a week for the two months before a festival (usually one evening through the week and one afternoon at the weekend), whereas production groups tend to meet less often (once a week, or sometimes less regularly). Most groups also have a weekend away, often camping or visiting places of significance, for bonding, relaxing and more rehearsals.
Performers are also responsible for their own props and costumes, although groups tend to organise communal costuming sessions to share skills and resources, which turns them into social affairs.
In addition, all performers are required to attend full cast walk-through rehearsals near the date itself.
What is an Open Meeting?
We have large Open Meetings twice a year – late February to join in for Beltane and late August/early September for Samhuinn. Rehearsals begin directly after that.
An Open Meeting is an opportunity to hear about all the different performance and productions groups available to join for that festival, to find out about the rehearsal schedules and skills required, and to meet the organisers.
Some groups will require more of a time commitment than others. Some have try-outs. The requirements are different each festival because the groups are different each time!
We encourage anyone wanting to take part in a festival to come to an Open Meeting, but we do post detailed information about the groups and contact details for the organisers on our website as well, just in case you can’t make it along.
We do not film our Open Meetings, and do not permit anyone who attends to film and post online after. This is out of respect for our members’ privacy, some of whom wish to keep their professional lives separate from their participation in the festival. Filming at the Open Meeting would directly contravene our collective approach of care, compassion and comfort for all our volunteers, we ask that people in attendance, our members, and prospective members respect the decision we have reached.
Details about Open Meetings, including times, dates and locations, are posted here in our news section and on Facebook in advance and you’re welcome to email volunteers[at]beltane[dot]org if you have any questions about how to get involved in our festivals.
What are Open Practices?
Once the Open Meeting has taken place, our performance groups launch into their Open Practices where you can try out and apply to be part of the festival. Details of when these Open Practices will be are announced at the Open Meeting, and we will add them to the website shortly after.
Open Practices are an opportunity for you to get a feel for each group and find out if it’s a right fit for you, and also to speak to the Group Organisers about any questions you have.
Open Practices take place for roughly two weeks after the Open Meeting, or until each group has selected their members and announced that they are closed. Rehearsals begin once the Open Practices are finished.
Propose an event or activity
Any member of Beltane Fire Society is welcome to propose an event or activity for the benefit of the Society and its members, to be run under the BFS name with support from the Board. Click here to find out how.
I’m involved with a performance organisation – can we participate in Beltane or Samhuinn?
For enquiries about participating as an external group, please contact the Board of Trustees via festival[at]beltane[dot]org with details of your organisation, links to where your performances can be seen online (pictures or videos) and how you see yourselves fitting in with our festival. This information should be sent as early as possible and within the following windows 15th November – 02 February for participation in Beltane and 01st June – 15th August for participation in Samhuinn.
Please be aware that although our events are festivals, they are not structured like a music festival. They are pieces of outdoor investigative theatre and do not involve tents for bands to play in or lots of raised staging.
Featured image by Vince Graham for Beltane Fire Society