What’s in a Stage Manager’s Prompt Book (aka SM’s Bible)

What’s in a Stage Manager’s Prompt Book (aka SM’s Bible)

December 31, 2019 17 By Kailee Schamberger


Hello Internet! I’m Nick Acciani
and these are my Adventures Backstage So I’ve gotten a lot of requests for this video that I’m gonna do today So i’m going to do this video today. You might be wondering why I have a bunch of binders sitting right next to me. The answer to that is: today’s video is all about the Stage Manager’s Prompt Book. and these are all of my prompt books. Most of my prompt books. For those of you who don’t know the Stage Manager’s Prompt Book is basically what they use to run the entire show. It has everything about the show in there, if the Stage Manager… if something happens to the Stage Manager, the show must go on! with or without a Stage Manager. And by without a Stage Manager I mean someone else steps into that role and uses the book and calls the show as a Stage Manager. Yes. I am going to go through one of my Prompt Books. To hopefully show you why it’s so important. eeny meeny miney moe Alright. Last one. So this is actually the last show that I did as a Stage Manager so let’s hope it’s the most complete. So the first thing about a Stage Manager’s Prompt Book is that it should be durable. any old binder isn’t gonna work because you open it and close it, and you’re using it so much it’s gonna fall apart. I have these binders from Staples. It’s like the SUV of binders. It holds a lot, and it is durable. It can go offroading. I also like it because it’s got a nice little clear sleeve in the front and I can put the show poster there. So the first thing that you see in my binder is the contact sheet. and that is one of the most important things that you will have because you constantly have to contact everybody. and I mean, before cell phones you only had a contact sheet, unless you memorized everything. and nobody wants to do that. so that’s the first thing I have. So after my contact sheet comes my schedule. And, for me this has everything on it, from conflacts Conflacts? From conflicts to the rehearsal schedule to the production schedule to meetings everything to do with the show is in this calendar. I have my script You know what? I’m gonna do a whole video on the script but, basically I have two scripts in here. I have my blocking script and then I translate that into a Production Script which has all of my cues, all of my tech stuff and it’s a whole lot cleaner. so that’s my script section. Two sections of scripts, all organized. The next section is props! I do a lot of prop design as well as stage managing, so my prop section is a little more beefed up than others. You can see, in this folder, I have a bunch of paper props. Letters and all that. and then I have my prop list. boom boom This show was interesting because it was a memory play, so scenes took place… one was in the future by three months, one was in the past by two months, one was bow That was really confusing, so I ended up making a whole separate prop list of what happened where, to track where things went. Then I have a set section. Anything a set designer has about the set will go in here for this. Sometimes theres If there’s set changes, all those lists will go in here. This show was on a unit set, so it didn’t change, so I just have my ground plan in there. Lights this I have a channel list and I have a light plot as well. basically, again, the light section has anything to do, and everything to do with the lights. Sound This section varies, basically this is just a cue list that I got from the sound designer before I transferred it into my script. One time Ihad a sound designer, they did the show on QLab, which a lot of sound designers out here do, they made a copy of the show on a thumb drive, and gave me that. I kept that in the little folder. Again, folders, handy. Then I have Costumes I have costume tracking. for every character. What costume piece they wear, in what scene, and all that. These sections, they’ll vary from show to show. and they are basically what you can get from the designer. Bigger shows, you always get everything. So bigger theaters, that are full on Equity theaters. Most of these shows are 99-seats. eeeeee so the designers are doing eight different jobs as well, so you might not always get the paperwork. and this has an actors and Stage Manager I don’t know why I did that… The actors section: If I can get it from the producers, I will get headshots and actors’ names just so that I can learn them. and I will keep that in the actor’s section. Allergies because you don’t know if someone is allergic to nuts backstage, and they need an epipen Actor allergies are good to have in there. and the Stage Manager has my equity contracts. So in LA, right now, we have a 99-seat theater plan, for Equity. And that I keep in my binder. For bigger shows that are not these small theaters, that aren’t under the same plan You can get a whole Stage Manager’s Packet which has different forms that you have to fill out different safety hazard things that you have to look out for and it’s got everything you need for equity. So that’s this show. This is a very a rataher complete binder If I, say, look into this script everybody should know this show. This was one of my favorite shows to Stage Manager. Again it has all those same sections but this one also had a section on the puppets. The puppets had their own costume changes, there were multiple puppets in order to make things happen And I had that all tracked out in this. Other tips and tricks for a binder post-its are killer Two things that are great to have: you’re gonna be going and flipping through pages a lot in this So anything you can put into a sheet protector is great because it won’t fly out. and anything like the script, which you’re writing on and can’t really have that in a sheet protector, those little I don’t know what they’re called… but they’re the little stickers they look like little white donuts, and they go on the page, on the three hole punch, and they help protect the page I’ll find something and show you a picture of them so you can see. Those are also great to have. You want to keep it neat and organzied So that anyone can look at it and make the show happen. From that book. You don’t want it in some hieroglyphics that only you can translate, cause that does nobody any good. On that same note, you want to make it in your own way. I don’t know any two stage managers that write out their cues, that write out their blocking the same way. All of my books are different. Cause, every show I learned on. And I realized “This didn’t really work the last show, so I’m gonna change it up and do it again. Always be learning, that’s the key. There will be times that a production or production company will want a copy of your script. Of the prompt book. That is their prerogative technically you are building this prompt book for that production. for them, and it is their property. If that is the case, the two things I suggest are One: make sure you get reimbursed for that or that reimbursement is a part of your stipend, pay, any of that. The second tip to that is: Make a copy for yourself. Whenever I went on interviews for Stage Managing, I brought at least two of my books. Whenever I’m interviewing a Stage Manager, I ask them to bring a prompt books. Because I want to see if a) I can call from their script What their paperwork, all those technical sections. The props list, the costume plots, the lighting plot, all of that, I want to see how that’s organized as well. That’s why it’s good to have your own copy. On that same note, I don’t know if it’s illegal, I think it is.. but everything in these books Is the intellectual property of that production. so, I did RENT. Say there is another production of RENT somewhere. I can’t go get hired as their Stage Manager, and then use everything from this book. Because that’s technically stealing from one production, and giving it to another. So just know that, if you’re gonna keep it. You can show it to people for interview purposes, and that type of thing, but not for, not to use again. Unless it’s with that same production company, and they are re-doing the show somewhere else. So, I think that’s about it. I think I have eveyrhting in there, I think I have enough in there to make a video. I hope you had fun, I hope you learned something. If you liked it, give me a good ol’ thumbs up subscribe come back next week for, something else, and remember Do what you love, love what you do. Nick out. I also keep little gifts that the actors get me, like cards and that type of thing they get me for opening night Like, this one has an Irish Flag Cause this play took place in Ireland and and I got a good, little, set of gifts from it. Including an Irish Flag That was a little Scottish there…