Every department holds specific tools for their professional assignments. But there are a few accessories every member of the performing arts should possess for making life more comfortable and efficient during rehearsals, set up, or install. Here is a list of the things you’ll always want to bring – independent on the field or kind of production you are working in.
A drinking bottle
It might sound needless at first, but there is a reason why drinking bottles stand at the top of our list. Working in stage productions is connected to physical operations for all involved. Whether it be rolling flight cases, carrying costumes, taping cables on the floor or climbing a rig. Everyone is constantly on their feet organizing stuff.
On top of that, we often work in dusty and air-conditioned venues. Chances are that dehydration is a more significant topic than most of us would expect. Having too little water then makes us tired, reduces our focus and leaves us less resistant to work-related stress.
To bypass these problems, we need to think of a way of making water consumption as easy and convenient as possible. Bringing your own drinking bottle is a note-worthy solution. Every standard bottle holds more fluid than most disposable cups. They can hardly be confused with the other umpteen bottles on the catering table. You can refill them at any tap or water dispenser, and they are safe to bring backstage without the risk of spilling your drink over valuable equipment.
Pen and paper
In times of smartphones and tablets, most people don’t carry pens anymore. And indeed, these new technologies hold a lot of advantages compared to the analog way of taking notes. However, some situations still require a traditional piece of paper to scribble on. You may want to leave a note for someone, label your props or sketch a quick draft. In these situations, you still need physical paper and pen. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people ask around for a pen during setups over the last few years. You’ll be astonished how carrying simple writing accessories can not only support your individual tasks but also help you to easily make friends with other colleagues.
A zipper hoodie
Whether you are working in theatres or convention halls, open-air festivals or cruise ships, most venues provide us with a permanent cold breeze that makes our muscles tense and necks stiff. A simple hoodie can gently counteract and support our physical condition. Over and above that, it is a multifunctional piece of material for covering props, having a blanket to sit on, bundling up valuables or keeping our kidneys warm. I often even wear my zipper hoodie front to back putting on the hood over my face for a comfortable dark space during power naps.
One of my favorite backstage accessories is headphones. Not only do they make me free to listen through scenes again without having to bother the sound tec, but it is also comfortable to have my personal plugs for in-ear monitoring or intercom. Connected to my phone, they also keep my hands free when solving a problem over a call. But most importantly, I use them to reduce the noise burden during setups, soundchecks or travel. Standard in-ear headphones lower the din around you, keeping you less stressed and more focused.
Last, but not least, stands our best friend gaffer. We all know what it is good for: everything! From keeping props together to fixing costumes, from creating stage marks to taping down cables, and from indicating directions to hiding nipples – the application areas are sheer endless. For that reason, there will usually be a roll of tape lying around somewhere.
Nevertheless, people typically don’t like to give it out because it always disappears miraculously. The generosity of technicians too often left them without supply in the end, and you don’t want to be the next one touching this sensitive spot. To be safe, bring your own tape and make sure look after it well!