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How Stage Managers Work

The Stage Manager Kit
A stage manager's kit should include first-aid supplies.
A stage manager's kit should include first-aid supplies.
© Steve Wisbauer/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Imagine a magician's bottomless bag of tricks or a mother's purse stuffed with tissues, band-aids and everything else needed for a child's emergency. That will give you an idea of the stage manager's kit. It's another type of emergency bag, but this one is full of everything the stage manager needs to handle the unexpected, in this case, whatever may happen during a rehearsal or performance.

A stage manager's kit reflects all the aspects of his job responsibilities. Since stage management covers the technical side, as well as dealing with the people involved in the production, stage managers have quite a varied set of supplies in their kits. They also need to have a portable office that they can take to rehearsals, backstage, into the control booth and out of the theater for meetings. And they need to be prepared for minor medical needs and emergencies, as required by Actor's Equity, the performer's union.

Of course, the kits vary, but here are some items you're likely to find in a kit:

  • Medical supplies: First aid kit, tweezers, ice packs, eye-wash, cough drops, aspirin, band-aids, saline, antacid, Ace bandages and pain relievers
  • Office supplies: Pencils, pens, markers, erasers, pencil sharpener, pushpins, ruler, file folders, hole punch, paper clips, highlighters, sticky notes, legal pads, envelopes, rubber bands, binder clips, dictionary, compass, protractor, glue stick
  • Convenience items: Small sewing kit, tissues, bobby pins, nail clippers, nail file, scissors, safety pins, breath mints, spare change
  • Stage supplies: 50-foot measuring tape, straight line and chalk, spare batteries, flashlight, electrical tape, spike tape, gaffers tape, glow tape, masking tape, duct tape, matches, stop watch, digital camera with USB cord for computer download, extension cord, t-square, string, clip-on lamp with dimmer switch
  • Tools: Screwdriver set, hammer, small tool kit, wrench, work gloves, utility knife, hack saw, wire cutters, small level, assortment of wood screws, nails and eyes

[sources: Stage Manager's Manual and Mike Lawler]

That's a lot to fit into a single art box or tackle box, so stage managers often keep stage supplies and tools in a separate toolbox. They may also move the office supplies into a briefcase or office bag. However they organize it, the stage manager's kit goes wherever he does.

Does becoming a stage manager sound like the career for you? Keep reading to find out the training you'll need and how to build your resume.