Read my complete Stage Managing series: "Stage Managing 101" --- "Basic SM Duties," --- "Basic SM Tools: Clothes," --- "Basic Stage Manager Tools - Fix-It Shop," --- "Basic Stage Manager Tools - Office Supplies & Extras." Follow me on my daily blog!



The Stage Manager (SM) job is very left-brain, i.e., logical, calm, cool, and collected, but a good Stage Manager is equal parts being organized and being prepared. And being prepared for your SM job begins with what you put on before you leave the house.




Ideally, the SM stays put in the tech booth or at the SM podium, but non-union SM's often don't have that luxury. Sometimes the SM has to do double-duty as a stagehand on amateur or college shows or productions operating with a skeleton crew. So, just to be safe, you may want to dress like your crew.


Work pants: Keep your yoga pants for yoga. Being an SM means wearing work pants. Jeans are a staple amongst techies, but I recommend EMS/EMT/Tactical pants. This kind of pant worn by emergency service personnel, such as Fire Fighters and Paramedics/EMT's, are perfect because they are made to be worn in tough conditions; plus, they have utility pockets for knives, scissors, and other small portables.

This type of pant also has special features such as a double-layer of fabric in the inner thighs, a tunnel waistband, and Teflon coating to prevent stains. You can also get these pants with knee pads, which is great if you ever have to spend long stretches in a cramped space or crawling under set pieces.


Belt: Like jeans, EMS pants accommodate a belt which will be crucial once you're in the theatre. A good quality leather belt will support all the things you'll soon have hanging off of it, such as your headset.


T-shirt: In rehearsal, there isn't usually a dress code, so wear something comfortable but professional. T-shirts definitely fit the bill. You will also want to have a button-up shirt or light sweater handy for temperature fluctuations. You can get chilly while sitting in rehearsal but warm up when you're running around during breaks and setting up for or striking rehearsal. Once you're moved in at the theatre, add a sweatshirt or thicker sweater to your gear because theatres tend to be cold.


At the theatre, your IATSE crew will wear black tees with the union logo, but you and the rest of your techies should also wear black t-shirts with no visible logo or words. (Side note: Stagehands and ASM's who must be on the stage at some point should wear long-sleeve black t-shirts.)


Undergarments: Keep all your personal parts athletically supported at all times -- guys AND gals. 'Nuff said.


Boots: Of course, you can wear tennis shoes, but many techies wear steel-toed boots since they handle heavy or awkward set pieces and work in dark spaces where visibility may be low. Think, "Safety first."


Gloves: (Note: Though gloves should be in your SM gear/toolbox, I'm listing them here because they are worn on your person.) Less needed for everyday rehearsals, gloves become more necessary once you're in the theatre. More for the tech crew, the SM should also have a pair of stagehand gloves, and you can choose between full gloves or fingerless. The gloves protect your hands when handling set pieces and hot lights. (Side note: they also hide the skin for stagehands and ASM's who must be on the stage for a scene change or move a set-piece during a scene as inconspicuously as possible.)


Spare clothes: Keep a spare set of clothes in your SM office or tech booth. Whether you got caught in the rain, smeared oil on yourself while lubricating the casters of a moving set-piece, or just dripped sauce from your lunch-break pizza, have an extra set of clothes on hand. If you don't have an office, keep your spare clothes in a backpack or storage container that is out of they way in your booth or near your podium.


Black: Make this your new favorite color and invest in quality black work clothes and footwear, even black socks (if wearing tennis shoes). As a part of the crew, you'll wear black a lot. As the SM, you should be in your booth or at your podium at all times, but your crew should be completely decked out in black if they are backstage or on stage during the show at any time. This can include a black ski cap or baseball cap to cover light-colored hair.



Make sure any necessary personal accessories such as a watch or hair rubberbands are not too reflective. If you're working an amateur or university SM job, then dress like your stagehands because you just may have to jump into the fray to lend a hand.


Wrapping Up:

  • Wear work clothes and footwear with safety and protection in mind.
  • Think ahead for how your clothes need to function when you're in the theatre.
  • Keep a set of spare clothes on hand.


Read my complete Stage Managing series: "Stage Managing 101" --- "Basic SM Duties," --- "Basic SM Tools: Clothes," --- "Basic Stage Manager Tools - Fix-It Shop," --- "Basic Stage Manager Tools - Office Supplies & Extras." Follow me on my daily blog!

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Tags: broadway, clothes, crew, gear, hand, manager, sm, stage, stagehand, tech, More…technician, theatre, toolbox, tools


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Comment by Gordon P. Firemark on February 27, 2011 at 1:19pm
As a sound guy, I often find myself in the middle of the house, so I like to have a set of "dressy" black clothes, including a black blazer, button down shirt and slacks. Theatre patrons still dress up (mostly) and the appreciate that there's not some schlub in jeans and T shirt stepping over them to get to the console, just before the show starts.. Like I o not, the crew is part of the overall impression made by the show. It best to appear professional at all times.
Comment by Trish Causey on January 25, 2011 at 5:17pm

Hey, ES and Kenny!


Thanks so much for writing those nice comments (will make my editor very happy {:-). Seriously though, Stage Managing is a unique animal, and I really don't think there's a harder job in the theatre. I think I will write another post after my next one just on the mental aspect of SM-ing. It's not for everyone, and when you get thrown into it, it can be utterly overwhelming.


Feel free to ask me any general questions on Stage Managing or questions specific to a circumstance you have encountered or are going through, and I'll do the best I can to answer!


Take care!


Comment by Kenny Knapp on January 25, 2011 at 11:06am
Lovin' this series, Trish!  As a Producer/Director, I've worked with great SM's and always trying to train up new ones. I know what I need from them but it can be difficult to communicate those expectations.  Thank you for documenting this stuff - it's now required reading for all my SM's!
Comment by e s dombrosky on January 25, 2011 at 11:05am

Thank you for you first three articles on Stage Managing.  I am using your articles to help bring all of us at our Theatre up to speed on "how it should be done". We're an all-volunteer group needing education.  Thanks and keep those articles coming.

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