Being prepared is one of the best characteristics of a Stage Manager. When an actor runs offstage with a costume malfunction (ahem!), having a safety pin at the ready can be the difference between a quick re-entrance or a show stop.
One simple way to be prepared is to have a kit with all the things you often find yourself needing. With a set of standard items, you too can be as resourceful as MacGyver.
It’s a balance between having enough items to be able to cover most situations, but not so many that it becomes unwieldy and difficult to rummage through. When I’m calling, I keep it under the prompt desk and often end up with actors poking through it under my feet to find some much needed item.
I’ve just been tidying out my kit (a good job to do at the end of a year) and here’s my list for the Ultimate Stage Management Kit. I keep it in a toolbox, but have also used plastic tubs or roadcases. This one is my old trusty favourite. I’ve had it since my first ASM gig many moons ago. I always make sure I have my little guy (who doesn’t have a name – see if you can spot him) given to me by a friend when I got my first professional job.
The Ultimate Stage Management Kit:
You don’t need a large quantity of any of these things, mostly a couple of each will do. They are only there to grab in hurry, you can re-stock at a time when you aren’t so pushed.
- Post-it notes
- Document flags
- Permanent markers
- Whiteboard markers
- Safety pins
- Rubber bands
- Paper clips
- USB drive
- Hole punch
- Spare leads for mechanical pencils
- Highlighters (note: blue is not good backstage under blue light.)
- White out tape
- Batteries (I usually have AA and AAA)
- Pencil sharpener
- Pegs (surprisingly handy for a lot of problems)
- Scale ruler
- Velcro dots
- Business cards
- Coins – for pay phones, parking, drink machines (trust me, I’ve needed this more than you’d expect, especially on tour.)
- Band aids
- Conforming bandage
- Hypo-allergenic medical tape (especially on shows with radio mics)
- Throat lozenges
- Paracetamol (This is controversial in Australia. But I keep some anyway.)
- Lip balm
- Blister pads
(always keep a fully stocked first aid kit nearby, these items are just things that get used very regularly)
- Prop keys (small and easy props to lose, useful to have some spares.)
- Prop money (as above)
- Multi-tool (or screwdrivers and a knife) – this qualifies you as a true MacGyver.
- Tape measure (at least 8m.)
- Cable ties
- Bobby pins
- Hair ties
- Needle & thread (I usually have black and white as they can be used in most situations.)
- Noticeboard pins
- Spare buttons
- Cloth tape measure
- Shoe laces (these can be used for more than just shoes)
- Clear nail polish (Good for a quick fix of ladders in stockings)
Happiness items (or morale boosters):
- Birthday candles
- Ball (Tennis ball or hacky sack – more about this in a future post.)
- Bottle opener
- Phone chargers
- Glow tape
- Mark up tape (If you can only fit one colour, choose white.)
- Double sided tape
- Electrical tape
- Gaff (of course!)
If you’re on a tight budget, you can find some good tips to stocking it cheaply here.
I’d love to hear what you have in your SM kit, especially if it isn’t on this list. Please comment with your items below.