“You’ve Got Everything In There!” :: The SM Kit

Full KitOne of the first things I do when I start prep on a new show is re-stock my stage management kit with everything I’ll need for that show. I’ve been building and refining my kit for a little over 5 years now. I thought I’d share what I keep in it as a starting point for other stage managers. If you notice that I’m missing something that you consider invaluable, please let me know – I’m always updating! (Next kit update will be in approximately a week.)

Before I go on to share photos and lists let me give you a little background.

While I am a freelance stage manager the majority of my work for the past 2 and a half years has been for Pacific Theatre, a relatively small theatre company in Vancouver that has its own space. I share that because it partially defines what is in my kit. I don’t have to have every sort of tool with me because there is a full set of tools backstage that I can access at any time (heck, I arranged them on the peg board back there in the first place). I also don’t need to have a full set of tape because the theatre has all the kinds I would need. This summer when I did outdoor shows with Project X my kit contained things that you don’t need except for outdoors: sunscreen, bug spray, etc.


My first kit was a little neon green fishing tackle box that didn’t hold much more than a few pencils, erasers, and a stapler. Then I upgraded to one of those big black tool boxes with a tray in the top. It served me well, but when it broke this past summer I knew that whatever I replaced it with would need to have better organizational capabilities. I wanted everything to have a place as opposed to just being thrown in.

Meet my new kit. Originally I found it in the scrapbooking section of Walmart. It was blue, green, and brown and cost about $35. It is a Plano 1363 Stow ‘N Go Toolbox. On a whim I popped over to the tools section and found the exact same tool kit but in brown & grey and it was $10 cheaper. It may not be quite as funky, but the price was definitely right. I picked this particular model because of the three removable trays, each of which has dividers you can rearrange based on your needs. Two of the trays are about 3 inches deep and the top one is about an inch and a half deep. On the top of the kit is an approx 5 inch deep free area.


In the top removable tray I keep the following items:

3 – 4×6 Bright Coloured lined post it notes
10 pkgs Post-it flags in various colours (I’ve tried using store brands, but they are much harder to write on. Since I use these for writing cues into my book I always go with the brand name)
– 1 staple remover
– extra staples (both in regular silver and in bright colors)
– elastic bands in various sizes
– Binder clips in 3/4 inch, 1 1/4 inch, & 2 inch
– paper clips
– push pins

kit4In the second removable tray:

– mechanical pencils (I recommend the cheapest you can buy – they disappear at an alarming rate)
– highlighters (I’m a big fan of the miniature ones since more can fit in my kit)
RSVP brand pens in blue, black, red, purple, & green (I am very picky about my pens. I find that these write very smoothly and have a good dark ink that doesn’t quickly fade – beneficial for notes)
– a handful of white erasers. (I’m a fan of the Staedtler brand, but others swear by other brands. Either way, a white eraeser works great for ever-changing blocking notations.)
– white out
– stapler
– scissors (2 pair because I always find that scissors walk off)
– glue stick


In the third (bottom) tray:

mini Sharpies in 12 fantastic colours
– Dry-erase markers (I use a small white board to display the daily schedule in the rehearsal hall)
– 12 felt pens (great for sign making!)
– pencil sharpener
– Chalk
– Batteries – AA, AAA, C, D, 9Volt
Post-it flags (I use these wider ones to mark each scene)
– Mini-mag flashlight (with R80 gel to blue it out for backstage)
– Wrench (with bungee strap for adjusting lights that are losing focus. I keep my own wrench because I like the ones with grips on them and I have yet to work for a theatre that has wrenches like that.)
– Multi-head screw driver


In the top open section of my kit I have four small pencil kits that I have divided into various mini-kits.

The first is my wardrobe (Costume Repair) kit. It contains:

– clear nail polish
– needles of various sizes
– 5 colours of thread (changed with each show, but always black & white)
– Safety pins
– cloth measuring tape
– mini lint roller
– tide to go pen
– glasses repair kit
– extra buttons
– extra hooks/eyes
– extra snaps

The second is is the “hygene” kit:
– Contact solution
– Visine
– Listerine fresh-strips
– Lip chap
– hand cream
– toothpaste
– an extra toothbrush (when I give this out I ask for it to be replaced)
– hand sanitizer
– nail clippers
– hair elastics
– a couple of tampons
– a couple of pads
– dental floss

The third and fourth are my mini-first aid kit.  I know it does not have everything in it, but I’m counting on the theatre to have a real, fully stocked first aid kit.  It was more than fit into one little pencil case, so I spread it into two:

– Bandaids (in the regular skin tone as well as “fun” ones, and a variety of sizes)
– Polysporin
– Tylenol
– Ibuprofin
– Q-tips
– vaseline
– Gravol
– Halls
– a large cloth triangle bandage
– water proof cloth tape
– first aid scissors
– sterile swabs
– roll on headache relief
Open KitAdditional items in the top of the kit:

– birthday candles
– hole re-inforcements
– ice pack (the kind you just snap and its instantly cold)
– tape measure (30 foot minimum – long enough to mark out sets with)
– Gum
– 2- 4×4 Super Sticky, recycled, unlined post it notes
– calculator
– blank labels (can be used as name tags as well as for labelling)
– blank CDs with hard cases
– a handful of small chocolates
– a stopwatch
-USB Drive
– iPhone charger

You may have noticed that a lot of my stationary items (staples, paper clips, push-pins, etc) are wacky colors as opposed to plain silver. I am a big believer that making theatre should be fun, and sometimes a neon band-aid with a Disney princess on it can make a day surprisingly more fun.

When I started on this post, I put out a call on Twitter to see what others considered invaluable – here are a few of their responses:

A_mandolin: @SMLois tide pen. clear nail polish. sticky tack. safety pins. hair elastics. white chalk. cheap reading glasses from Shoppers. USB drive.

Travisbedard: @SMLois liquorice altoids for…Cast and crew?

dloehr: @SMLois An iPod or iPhone with a backup playlist of SFX, just in case.

jordanmechano: @SMLois Those little finger condoms are very useful. Hell, even regular condoms, depending on the show


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