BWW Blog: A Stage Manager's Tool Kit
The key to every good stage manager, is what you have as your arsenal in your bag. You need to be prepared, because you never know what disaster is going to strike (or when). My list is definitely not a complete list, but this is everything that I tend to carry. This is also for anyone who is thinking about becoming a stage manager, most people who stage manage probably know that these are the basics.
After being an actor for several years, I tend think of being a stage manager as, "What would I want to have available to me if I forgot it." That answer is just about anything.
Arguably the most important thing for a stage manager to carry, because so many actors forget them almost every rehearsal. For my program, I tend to give out the really big, fat first grader pencils for those who forget. My actors fight me for a normal pencil almost every rehearsal, and my response (lightheartedly) usually is, "Should have brought your own." After a few days, they learn. (Pro-tip).
Highlighters, too, tend to be a popularly needed item - especially during table reads and the first few weeks. In my experience, actors wait until the first rehearsal to highlight their parts in their scripts - and usually don't bring their own. I try my best to carry a variety of colors so they can have options.
Sometimes you don't have enough time to run to the costume shop to make a repair, or sometimes, you have something a small as a button fall off. In these times, it becomes really helpful to carry a mini sewing kit that has a couple different thread colors, needles, needle threaders, and mini scissors. My personal kit also has a small measuring tape and straight pins incase I need to mark off where a costume needs hemmed.
Mini Tool Kit
It started off as a joke this past fall that I bought a small tool kit that had both flathead and phillips screwdrivers AND a 3 foot tape measure to prove to my director that I was overly prepared for rehearsals, but it ended up being incredibly helpful for small set and prop repairs. Occasionally if we had a table leg or a hinge come loose, it was nice to be able fix it immediately rather than put a repair note in my rehearsal report that night. If at all possible, I highly recommend a small tool kit.
First Aid Kit/Ibuprofen
Injuries are bound to happen at some point during the rehearsal process. I usually carried a small box that had Band-aids, Neosporin, gauze, allergy meds, and ibuprofen in it. Rather than having to track down a first aid kit in the theater, it makes it easier to have a personal small version of it. Ibuprofen is usually a major thing to carry because headaches happen all too often. It's better to be overly prepared.
THIS IS YOUR BIBLE. DO NOT LOSE IT. This is the book that you will take your blocking notes, prop notes, costume notes, notes from your director, line notes, and really anything else. Your prompt book should be written in a way that if something happens to you and needs to come in to take over your role, they can understand what has been done so far. Your prompt book is something that you will need to bring to every rehearsal - it is essential to the creation of your production.
For your actors and yourself (mostly yourself). If you bring snacks, make sure it isn't overly aromatic as to not distract the actors. Nothing is worse than a rehearsal when your actors are complaining about being hungry every 5 minutes. I tend to bring granola bars and fruit snacks. You want to bring stuff that can hold you, and others, over until you are finished with rehearsal to get real food.
Being a Stage Manager comes with a ton of responsibility, and you need to make sure that you are aptly prepared. SM'ing has been one of the best (of many) jobs in theatre that I have picked up. Being one of the organized people in charge has definitely given myself a better appreciation for my craft, and for the people who do this on a daily basis. If you are considering starting stage managing for your program/community, definitely take a minute to make sure you have all the appropriate materials for the job. Not only are you helping your actors, but you are also keeping your tech/production crew in line. You don't want to be without the right stuff.
Until the next one!