Gifts for Your Favorite Stage Manager

by David J. McGraw

Telex PH-88 HeadsetThe only person who keep more lists than Santa is a stage manager.  So whether you are shopping for the holidays or just wanting to thank that SM who saved your show/career/life, here are a few popular gift ideas:

Headset.  Especially if your favorite “Go” person works freelance, she/he should have a personal headset (Just how often do they clean those staff headphones?). A lightweight/featherweight pair for those 10 out of 12s and choose single-muff to hear both backstage crises and tech table critiques.  If you are new to the game, most base stations and belt packs will require you to use a 4-pin connector (A4F) on your headset.  My personal pick: Telex PH-88.  There are nicer options, but my first PH-88 lasted over 18 years until the foam pads disintegrated.

SMA Membership.  The job notices alone are worth the price of membership: $20 for students, $30 for Associates (early-career & part-time) and $40/year for full memberships.  And take advantage of every Operation Observation and Drinks Night in your region!

All the pencils/pens/highlighters that you have borrowed over the course of a production.  I would recommend buying new ones, but stage managers can be very particular about their writing instruments.  See next item.

Gift Card to the nearest office supply store.  You know how some restaurants have ‘secret’ meals that don’t appear on the menu.  Stage managers know the codes for the Avery products that don’t appear on shelves.

The oddest helpful device you can find.  The discount bins at hardware stores can be treasure troves when looking for that next miracle item.  A new favorite of mine is a flashlight with an extension neck and a magnetic ring around the lamp.  Perfect for finding and retrieving object that have literally fallen between the cracks.

Caffeine.  However your SM takes it.

Donation to either Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS or The Actors Fund.  Both have great gifts on their websites and BC/EFA also sells CareCards and other Opening Night gifts.  Because, let’s face it, your favorite stage manager probably already has everything.