As a stage manager, you need to be prepared for any problem that gets thrown your way, and in a theater that could be anything from an actor bruising their leg while dancing to someone getting locked in a bathroom (both of which have happened during Legally Blonde). Because of this, you need a Mary Poppins-esque bag filled with anything and everything under the sun so you are ready for the next crazy crisis. Here’s what’s in mine:
The SM copy of the script is essentially the bible of the show. It has all of the blocking written down, every scene change sketched out, every light and sound cue, and every single line change. Without this binder, the show couldn’t run.
If the script is the Legally Blonde bible, then my laptop is like that bible app that people sometimes have on their phone. During rehearsals I used my computer to access everything in my Google drive, including but not limited to: rehearsal reports, contact sheets, conflict calendars, the props list, the shift plot, and so much more.
A seemingly infinite amount of pencils
Seriously. I don’t know how many pencils are in this bag, but I know that the day I run out of pencils is the day the world ends. As a stage manager you always have to be prepared, and most of the time that boils down to handing an actor a pencil when they need to write down their blocking.
An absurd amount of keys
I think I have four keys on my key chain just for different places in Swirnow right now. It’s to the point where you can always hear me coming because my keys jingle, which actually gives me a weird sense of authority. Only important people have way too many keys, right?
Water or Tea
With a rehearsal schedule as busy as this one, it’s important to have something to drink, preferably with caffeine. As we say, only variations on water are allowed in the theater (AKA water and tea, which is really just leaf water).
Cell phone charger
This is just a good life tip, but always be sure to have a cell phone charger around. If you don’t need it, someone will and they will love you forever if you let them borrow it. As the stage manager people need to constantly be able to contact you and if your phone is dead, that’s pretty hard. We also record all music rehearsals and tape big dance numbers for the actors to review later. Basically, if you have a dead phone it’s really hard to stage manage a show.
Is that some loose spike tape?
Sometimes a stage manager has to deal with a million things at once and sometimes that means dropping a spare piece of tape in your bag before running off to go answer the next question and finding it on the bottom of your bag when writing a blog post. My bad, there’s no such thing as a perfect stage manager.