What goes in a Stage Managers kit? Those items are listed below, but also, a quick discussion about who supplies what for this kit and why.
A Stage Managers Kit is an essential toolbox for running a smooth rehearsal and performance process. I've encountered varying levels of expectations in terms of what the COMPANY provides and what the STAGE MANAGER provides, which I'd like to delve into a little here. It's worth noting that the Stage Manager should not be expected to provide every little expendable: things like spike tape should be budgeted into every production and the company knows this. The SM Kit is not just for the use of the SM. I bring a personal pencil case that has the writing instruments I personally prefer to use, but the stack of pens/pencils in my kit are for anyone in the room that needs it. That being said - every single item purchased to keep a person SM kit stocked should be considered a business expense and considered when filling out taxes. As a freelancer, that is one way to make sure tax season isn't totally disastrous. It does take time, so keep those receipts organized all year long.
What the company should provide...
Anything expendable that actors/production team can ask for in the room, including but not limited to:
1. pencils and pens
2. post it notes
5. stapler/hole punch
6. painters tape, scotch tape
7. Correct size batteries to operate anything that is battery operated
What the SM usually provides...
Their own scale rule
Their own preferred writing utensils
Yes - your kit should be exhaustive and have nearly everything you could need in rehearsal, but in the end, if the actors eat all your pencils, then the company really really should have a stock for you or at the very least provide petty cash so you (or your ASM) can make the purchase.
You know you want to go...
It's important to keep your kit organized, portable, and accessible. The container you choose should accomplish all those things. Some good options are:
1. Tackle Box: normally for fishing or storing a small tool kit, a tackle box is great because they are relatively cheap, sturdy, portable (usually has a handle on top), and a tackle box undoubtedly says this box is serious. Tackle boxes also come in an assortment of sizes and with increasing compartment complexity. They often come with drawers/shelves that can be removed/replaced, so it's useful for customization.
Some options to get you thinking are (and no, I'm not making these names up):
Plano Angled Tackle Box System
Plano Guide Series Tackle Box
Plano Rack Systems Tackle Box
Wakeman Fishing 2 Tray Tackle Box Organizer
Pelican Air Case - Fancy! Need to ADD dividers
2. Craft Organizer: Craft organizers tend to be really similar to tackle boxes, but they're designed and catered to old women, so they tend to be made out of softer materials and some even come on wheels (because you have to scrapbook on the go...?).
3. Craft Tote (like this one). The most portable and compact, this is a great option if you're constantly moving between spaces on any singe day and can't leave anything bulky in the space. This is great too for those who take public transit.
4. A Backpack with Crazy Awesome Pockets. Gotta love a thing with straps. This also would function really well for working festivals and other outdoor, on-the-go event work.
In the end - it's what works for you!
The List. Organized by category.
#2 pencils (# in room X 2)
pencil eraser caps
thin black sharpie
thick black sharpie
chisel tip black sharpie
blue/black ink pens
dry erase markers
post it notes (*ask director for color preference - they might have one!)
stapler (*this one swivels out so you can staple anything)
Architects Scale Rule
Black gaff (1 roll)
spike tape (3-5 contrasting colors)
phone charger "universal" (for now) micro USB
multi head screw driver (I like screw drivers that come with bits that live inside the handle because then they are loose and therefore lose-able!)
Mini Mag Flashlight (this one comes with a holster...sexy)
Health and Safety:
ice packs (*reusable are best so as you don't have to keep buying them)
fabric bandaids, assorted sizes
alcohol prep pads
An anti-histamine like Benadryl
tiny sewing kit
mini lint roller
Outdoor/Large Event Specific:
ziplocs to keep valuables in
If You Can Afford it...
mini tripod for smart phones
Personalized pencils! "RETURN TO STAGE MANAGER" or "[YOUR NAME]" Make them fun/bright colors so they stand out. It's one little artistic decision we get to make - might as well have fun with it.
My Personal Pencil Case...
Yup: what's in my personal pencil case is different from the kit. I do not share from my personal pencil box (except maybe with my ASM). As I said before, the kit I consider fairly communal. You can easily run out of pencils in a week, so it's important not to put out your most favorite mechanical pencil if you have one. My personal favorites for myself are below - !
1. Erasable highlighters: It's true - these exist and they work! I'm in love with them and honestly I think Frixion need to hire me as their spokesperson because I will sell the hell out of these.
2. Erasable pens. Erasable pens have come a long way. Note that they work with HEAT, so if you run a page with notes through a copier all of the markings will go away (which could be a devastating mistake - or an incredibly easy way to make your page just like new!). Any pack will do, but Frixion is the best brand that I've used. I love these because I can color coordinate my notes and can easily differentiate between a line change, blocking note, blocking change, etc.
4. Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser
5. Wescott C-Thru General Purpose template
6. Eraser Cover Template
7. Mechanical pencils (.7 or .5) OR blackwing 602 pencils
Please comment what you like in your kit! I intentionally don't have a few things but I'm always looking for what works for others.
Over and out.