“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


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

About Lois

I am a Vancouver-based Stage Manager and frequent theatre goer. After graduating from Trinity Western University I spent two seasons as the resident stage manager at Pacific Theatre. Now I am working as a freelancer with various companies in Vancouver.

Comments are closed