‘Helping front or backstage you will meet new friends, some life long. I guarantee you will be swept up in the island’s magic.’

If you think you would like to get involved with Brownsea Open Air theatre have a look at all the areas available to you. 

Auditions are held every year in January at the Durley Dean Hotel, however you can join us at any time during the year. Email: [email protected]


Being part of the Cast of BOAT is a unique experience; whether you are playing a lead character or a walk on - everyone is important and made to feel so. You are part of an extraordinary team and will, without a doubt, make some friends for life. The commitment is great but so are the rewards.

There are very few amateur companies who are sold out for three weeks in the summer, with an audience capacity of 500 + each night.

Many of our younger actors have gone onto drama school and made their career in acting on TV, film and/or stage.

Being in a Shakespeare production is the best ground work for any actor. The skills required to draw your audience in are the 'basics of acting' and once learnt will carry you through any production you may be involved in.

Once a member of the BOAT cast you will have the opportunity to join our Actors’ Workshop, prior to rehearsals starting, where you will be tutored by a professional Shakespearean Actor who is one of the BOAT Patrons.

In 2015 BOAT was selected to take part in the RSC Open Stages, an initiative for amateur Shakespeare companies. From our regional performance we were selected to perform on the main stage at the RSC.

The opportunities are great!


Everyone involved in building the set feels a sense of satisfaction on seeing a bare and open piece of ground converted into a vibrant set that works for, and engages, both audience and actors alike.  It is a vital piece of the show’s dramatic jigsaw and brings the Director’s vision to life.

We make good use of volunteers with relevant skills e.g. builders, chippies, painters etc. but the majority of those who help with the set are enthusiastic amateurs who love to be part of the creative process.  Have a look at our past sets and see what has been achieved.

Set build starts in early May and Volunteers travel to the Island every Sunday morning on the ferry from Poole. Tea and coffee is provided, we bring our own lunch and eat together, making this a really enjoyable social occasion – the chance to meet and make new friends.

Join us if you can wield a brush, or carry, fetch, hammer, drill or lift.  


During the production the props team support the actors on performance nights handing them any items that they take on stage.

However, preparation begins months before and is enormous fun. The director provides a list of props; anything from food to fire. Yes- Fire! (Flaming torches are a speciality which are made using sticks, chicken wire and flame proof material which end up looking like giant cotton buds before they are lit). Armed with this list the team ‘begs, borrows, steals and even makes’.

Some props are made on Brownsea Island on set build Sundays and other props at workshops on the mainland. All-comers are welcome whatever their skills including ironing or making tea!

An example of the versatility of the props department was when an orb was requested. Even e-bay could not source an orb so a bit of lateral thinking was required in true Blue Peter style. We utilised an old ball cock, some wood to whittle and some gold paint and result - a passable piece of kit!

So what is the commitment? The answer is as much or as little as you can manage as long as you come along a few times and bring a smile, a sense of humour, a few practical skills and enjoyment in being a team player. Come along. Give it a whirl.


Until 2000 BOAT hired most of their costumes from the RSC.  As an experiment, a small but enthusiastic team made the costumes for our 2001 production of Twelfth Night. The result was so successful that we have made our own ever since.

We currently have a dedicated Costume Unit in Poole which is large enough for storage and to provide a workshop. Although some of our Volunteers have advanced dressmaking skills, much of what we do involves simple organisation of items, maintenance and repairs: sewing on buttons, trimmings, hemming and even glueing. We also need help with hair and make-up if that is your particular interest and there is the opportunity for the costume team to help with wardrobe backstage during the production.

If you love stunning fabrics, accessories, and jewellery you’ll find an outlet for your creativity whatever the level – and can be sure of a warm welcome. You can either sew in your own home or come to the store and get involved on site – tea, coffee and biscuits always on hand!


As a registered charity, BOAT always tries to limit the amount it pays out for publicity in order to donate as much as possible to the National Trust. Therefore, we rely heavily on Volunteers to promote the main production and the activities of BOAT in general. We are always looking for new people with or without specific skills because publicity for BOAT is non -stop year round. The biggest task is the distribution of fliers and posters in the local area and is the simplest way anyone can be involved.  However we are also keen to find people with experience or interest in other aspects of publicity. This could include joining the team that writes press releases, creates artwork, finds new outlets for publicity and supports other projects that BOAT undertakes.


The stage crew team is essential to the smooth running of each and every performance.

A member of stage crew, equipped with headphones and a copy of the script, is assigned to each stage entrance and is there to check that actors in are place for their entrances. They assist with bulky/heavy/hazardous props and furniture as required.

A member of stage crew is assigned to ‘Calls’ – ie going to the Dressing Room (Cowshed) and calling actors to the relevant stage entrance.

If you join the stage crew you will be part of a friendly, hard-working team helping to run one of the South Coast’s highest-profile productions. For those who prefer to be behind the scenes but still want to feel the excitement, this vital role will give you the buzz of performance. The stage crew is key to a successful production.

You must be able to catch the ferry from Poole Quay on performance nights (last ferry leaves at 6.20) and will be working out-of-doors all evening.


The Front of House team is there to meet and great members of the public coming to see the performance on Brownsea Island. This starts at Poole quay as patrons arrive to board the ferry with members of the FOH team there to ensure that the evening runs smoothly and our audiences have a great time.

On the Island it involves providing information, selling programmes, showing patrons to their seats, and a host of other essential tasks. . As a member of FoH you can also help in the Refreshment Tent, with lots of delicious food and drinks to tempt our audiences. There is a great team spirit and many FoH volunteers come back year after year, enjoying the company and surroundings of the Island on a beautiful summer’s evening.  Rotas are organised so you can volunteer to join the team for a couple of evenings or several, it’s up to you.



There is something magical about creating theatre on an island and lighting particularly is a huge challenge.  Temporary scaffolding towers have to be erected for the lights to be hung from.  The height of these structures is limited so lighting angles are a little lower than normal.  Adding to the complexity of lighting, the audience is on 3 sides. For the first half of the production it's daylight yet lighting is used through out. All the equipment has to be brought to the Island and there is one week-end to install the lighting and sound. This is called rigging week-end and a huge team of volunteers stay on the Island to put up all the lights. Lighting cues for each scene or moment are often created and developed throughout the technical and dress rehearsals. We are painting with light; the lights are the palette, the stage and actors the canvas and every lighting state a painting. To be part of the Technical team is an amazing learning experience and good friends are made.