May 20, 2007


I call this: computers,gaming,mac,summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:58 pm

OK, I’m really going to do something productive now. I’m going to think about packing. My task is made a bit easier because I have a crate up at Reagle with a lot of my stuff in it. At the end of my first season there, I found I had accumulated a lot of stuff that there was no point bringing back to New York — apartment things like a hairdryer and Brita pitcher, stage management-y things like pencils, paper and blank CDs. It was silly to throw the stuff out, and I had been told early on that I was welcome to come back the next year, and I wanted to come back too, so I asked if it would be OK if I bought a storage crate and kept some stuff in it. If something else came up and I couldn’t return, they would be free to give the contents to the next stage manager. They were happy to accept it, probably because they figured if they had my stuff I’d be more inclined to come back!

As luck(?) would have it, the Broadway show I had booked for last spring/summer was canceled before rehearsals began, so I found myself back at Reagle, and my crate was waiting for me. At the end of that second year, it expanded from just essential supplies that would be of use to anyone, to my own personal box of goodies. Does anyone else want my hairbrush? I think not, but I do, and the likelihood that I would be the PSM in possession of the box the following year seemed high enough that I packed just about everything in there.

What’s in there? I don’t know. But I learned from my mistakes last year — having unnecessarily purchased or brought from NY things I had forgotten were in the box — and at the end of last summer, made a complete inventory of what I was putting in the box, with a hard copy in the box itself, and saved in a document in my “Reagle” folder, cryptically titled “What’s in my storage box.” Let’s see…
Household Supplies:

  • 2 sponges
  • can of apple cinnamon air freshener
  • 2 boxes Snuggle fabric softener [this was one of the things I bought by mistake]
    Bottle of unopened hand soap [probably that, too]
  • Bathroom clock radio
  • Corkscrew
  • Approx. 4 sq. ft of bubble wrap
  • partial box of large trash bags, mostly full box of kitchen bags
  • hairdryer
  • hair brush
  • nightlight
  • Approx 200 Q-tips
  • GNC Women’s Ultra Mega vitamins
  • Alarm clock w/ 9-volt battery
  • Deodorant (degree)
  • razor & 1 spare blade

Office Supplies

  • Approx. 30 business-size envelopes
  • 4 6×9” manila envelopes
  • Approx. 20 crappy yellow pencils
  • Approx. 15 ballpoint pens<
  • 1 red roller-ball pen<
  • 1 blue, 1 orange highlighter
  • 1 glue stick
  • Unopened pack of post-it page markers
  • 1/2 roll of packing tape w/ dispenser
  • disposable wipes for electronics
  • spool of 7 CD-R, 7 DVD-R
  • iPod firewire cable [that I can’t even use with my nano – why did I keep that?]
  • Significant amount of blue construction paper
  • Approx. 500 sheets white paper
  • Package of photo paper
  • Perhaps 150 business card templates SINGLE SIDED
  • AEA Stage Manager packet
  • 11 thank you cards w/ envelopes [think anyone notices I keep using the same ones?]
  • Approx. 6ft continuous cable wrap
  • 4 binder clips
  • 1 keyring
  • 25ft coax cable
  • ethernet cable
  • 1 6-outlet vertical power strip

Hmm… Looks like I brought the contents of my personal pencil case home with me and just left the bulk supplies for the company. WTF was I thinking? That’s heavy, why didn’t I leave it there and replace the stuff when I got home? I don’t have any of my favorite pencils, or scissors, or scotch tape, or anything like that. Well now I have some Staples items to add to my shopping list (which is a memo on my Treo called “Reagle Shopping Day 1.”) The other puzzling omission is the two binders for my scripts — a large one for my blocking script, score, and technical documents, and a more svelte 1″ binder for my calling script. While the Reagle office supply closet always has a good supply of cheap binders for my temporary needs, I only use these for my main scripts, and I know I had them — a white 2″ one, and a 1″ blue one. I’m sure I didn’t bring them home (what a crazy idea anyway) because I don’t even have a white 2″ binder in my apartment right now. I’m inclined to think it’s a typo, but I remember being very thorough about this list. They would have been the last thing packed after the final performance, and maybe I just felt it was so obvious I didn’t write it down. I sure hope they’re there, they’re expensive.

I like to pack really light, so it’s always a huge to-do the night before when I decide the suitcase is just too heavy and/or won’t close, and stay up all night obsessing about reducing the weight in such minute detail you’d think I was planning to launch it to the moon.

The Kit
I love-love-love-love-love the container I currently use for my kit. I got it at the Container Store, which is like a porn shop for stage managers. Here it is. Ooh, it’s so sexy! I have the large one. It’s not here at the moment to be experimented with, as it’s currently living on my desk at the Riverside Theatre, but the big challenge is that it just barely fits in my suitcase. It actually has to be at a little bit of an angle to fit, which requires some creative packing to make use of the space around it. Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure I brought it last year. I think I used (gasp!) a ziplock bag, and just brought the things that couldn’t be easily obtained at the theatre (i.e. no paperclips, push-pins, screws, etc.).

In New York the design of this case is wonderful because it’s so thin and easy to carry while navigating crowds and packed subways and stuff. It’s a fact of life that sometimes I work in places where I don’t have a place to store even something that small, and the need to carry it everywhere makes portability very important. But in Waltham it just sat in my trunk most of the time, and I do believe I had more success last year with a bare-bones ziplock bag that stayed in my backpack. I guess that’s the plan again.

I won’t decide exactly what to take from my kit until the night before, when we load out of Riverside and I have it back at home, but here’s my rough guess:

  • Leatherman (Charge XTi) and flashlight (Surefire 6P) in combined holster
  • lithium batteries for said flashlight, as they’re way too expensive when not bought in bulk
  • maybe a couple binder clips, since I only have 4 in the box up there
  • LED keyboard light — my Powerbook has its own backlit keys, the light is for my script
  • laser pointer (don’t use it often, but it’s great for pointing out exact positions at a distance — which light I’m talking about, position on stage, etc.)
  • stopwatch
  • this weird tool I have with tiny blades and screwdrivers — I can’t even describe it
  • maybe a pair of earplugs — was PSM for a rock musical years ago, still keep multiple kinds of earplugs, guitar picks of all thicknesses, and a drum key in my kit. It used to be a necessity, now it’s my favorite thing to be comically over-prepared for. The earplugs are light and sort of health-related, so I may throw them in just in case we’re using the little-known Metallica orchestration of The King and I.

A lot of the things in my kit are there on the assumption that I am essentially stranded on a deserted island and have to be able to fix any problem with its contents. When working in a professional and well-equipped theatre like Reagle, where people are employed to do the things that aren’t my job, there’s a lot less I have to carry since I can just do what a rational person should do — if an actor breaks a shoelace, I’m sure a wardrobe person can help me. I don’t need to be able to produce a spare shoelace at a moment’s notice.

The last thing that is show-related is my headset, which will not travel with my kit or computer supplies because it gets packed gently in my suitcase between my clothes. I have a little leather pouch I use to keep it clean, but I have to be careful not to crush it. My headset of choice is the Telex PH-88, which I first fell in love with when it was at the calling desk at Phantom. Now they use one of those huge Sennheiser things that feel like wearing a football helmet — ugh. Anyway, when I first arrived at Reagle, Lori asked if I owned a headset because she was preparing to place an order for some replacements if I wanted to get one. I spent the first show of the season swapping between the Telex and the Clear-Com CC-26, which I have always liked for it’s very light weight, but as they get older the booms tend to get floppy, and I have this nervous habit of always having to hold onto them to make sure they’re actually in front of my mouth before I talk. I decided to go for the more expensive but more sturdy Telex, and I was able to get in on the discount pricing with the theatre’s order.

The computer stuff
As I may have mentioned, I’m planning to buy a Macbook Pro over the summer (hopefully June 11 will see the announcement of new models). My trusty Powerbook will limp through one more trip to Reagle, and hopefully by July will be enjoying retirement recording TV shows while I’m at rehearsal. Yes, it’s a bit disappointing to not have been able to make the transition before the season started, and to lug two laptops home at the end. On the other hand, you should see what the difference in sales tax is when buying a computer in Massachusetts. More than makes up for the inconvenience.

So… the Powerbook, of course, in its MacCase sleeve (I might need a new one to fit the slightly longer MBP, I think — but the old one is stained from when a certain director spilled his smoothie into my computer bag, so I guess it’s OK). The power cable for the Powerbook obviously, especially since the elderly machine has its original battery, and starts threatening to shut down after five minutes of use. Also in the main compartment of my computer bag will be my script for Singin’ in the Rain, without a binder. I carry an assortment of cables, many of which are in cute little retractable spools: firewire, USB, mini-USB, ethernet, phone cord, iPod, Palm sync/charge cable. My Canon i70 printer, which is the same age as my Powerbook, besides needing some serious percussive maintenance over this past winter, is still going strong after years of hard work. Along with that is the Airport Express. See this post for the whole story on how they’re used. My Nintendo DS Lite and charger — I had a lot of fun last year playing Animal Crossing with the kid playing Chip in Beauty and the Beast. We actually inspired two people on the crew to buy the game, too. Everyone else in the building thought we were dorks. …What?

Low priorities
And finally, if there’s any room in my bags left over, I might not have to walk around naked. I pack exactly eight sets of clothes (including the one I’m wearing on the travel day). That leaves me a one-day grace period to do the laundry every week. One of those is my “nice outfit” which is not intended to be part of the normal clothing rotation, as it’s too nice to wear on an average day. It’s only for occasions when I know I can sit in my ivory PSM tower and not get dirty. Opening nights, parties on the day off, etc. I usually wear a sweatshirt of some kind on the travel days (so the sweatshirt doesn’t have to fit in the suitcase, of course), that way I have one heavier thing to wear should it ever be cold. This year I’m sure it will be my 1-up jacket. I love that thing. I also pack a lightweight windbreaker for rainy days. I bring only one pair of shoes, due to space and weight constraints. This depresses me because one of the best things about Reagle is that I never have to dress in all black for three whole months. On days I don’t have to wear black I enjoy wearing a nice bright pair of white sneakers, but because white sneakers aren’t classy enough to be worn with the “nice outfit,” that means my one pair of shoes must be plain black sneakers that are subtle enough to pass for dress shoes if no one looks too closely. I just bought a new pair to cheer myself up about this (and because the old ones had a huge hole in them).

Usually a few stray items also find their way into my suitcase. A small notebook mouse went up the first year so I could do a little bit of computer gaming. The sad state of Mac gaming and the age of my Powerbook made that a joke, but this year it might make the trip again for the new computer. I might bring another cheap little mouse I got for free instead of the good one — then I can leave it there.

Well that should more or less cover it. It certainly is nice to have a consistent experience and know exactly what I can expect to have available to me up there, and where I can obtain all the other things I need. It’s a big difference from my first year where I packed a lot of stuff not knowing whether I would need it.

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