Welcome to the Stage Manager’s Kit!

by David J. McGraw

A Stage Manager’s kit may seem like magic—but it contains the sum of the stage manager’s experiences in solving problems.A good SM kit contains all the tricks of the trade, ranging from new tech tools to age-old remedies to treasures from the office supply store. It might seem like magic when the stage manager pulls out the most obscure item*, but that bag of tricks is actually the sum of the stage manager’s experiences in solving problems. This web series aims to be just that: the collective experiences of stage managers distilled to interviews, strategies, and more than a few tricks. We stage managers often work in isolation and many of us learned the trade through just a couple of mentors. We don’t have our own annual conference (it would have to be a single day and on a Monday!) and social gatherings are usually limited to the larger cities. We are very grateful to Stage Directions to give us a home.

As we launch this new web series, I want to pay homage to a pioneer of bringing stage management to the World Wide Web. Carissa Dollar, perhaps best known for her “Stage Managers Do Make Coffee” handbook, ran a GeoCities website back in the late-1990s called The Prompt Corner. While several great stage management books predated The Prompt Corner, Carissa found a way to make a website seem more like a conversation than a lecture. Her early online work inspired present sites such as the SM Network. We aspire to build such an online community.

So join our ongoing conversation and if you want to recommend a topic to our team of writers from the stage management program at the University of Iowa, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Places, please!

A repurposed dental mirror can help SM’s peer around tight corners and be sure things are plugged in correctly. * My favorite repurposed gadget in my kit is a dental inspection mirror that I picked up at a hardware store for a dollar. Ever need to peer around a tight corner check whether you plugged the right cables into your sound system? Just don’t leave it out if you have clowns in your show…trust me.