What's In My Bag After A ShowI am nosey, there’s no two ways about it. I love seeing what other people have bought, what other people got for their birthdays, what their houses look like and especially posts where people give a run down on what’s in their bag. There’s something I find really interesting about seeing what people carry around with them day-to-day! I decided to write a bag post myself, but it was incredibly dull. I don’t have anything interesting in my day-to-day bag, just the normal things like a purse, my phone, a notebook, a pen…..nothing fun or fancy to make the post worth the time.


I do have a second bag I use regularly though, which is my bum-bag for shows. I bought it from Primark two years ago, during a particularly annoying tech week when my trousers didn’t have pockets, or belt loops. Me and my bum-bag were almost inseparable during this run, as it doubled up as a belt to hang my comms pack on. It’s surprising how much you can accumulate in it during a show run!

Also, sorry for the following photograph. I wasn’t paying attention to the shadows I made with the light, and now the photograph looks a bit…grubby? By the time I came to edit the pictures I’d thrown some of the things away, so I couldn’t retake it.

Some of the Show contents

Loads of batteries

I’ve spoken about this before, but theatre can be hugely wasteful. Batteries in microphones are used for one show, then discarded, as you can’t risk the mic dying mid show. Though we recycle our batteries, we take them home with us if they still have a lot of life left. I’ll use these for fairy lights, my radio and my Xbox controllers. These are just from the last performance, I’ve taken home a lot more! The AAA batteries were left over from a touring show, and as we don’t use AAA in work, we could take a pack home if we needed.

Headache Stick

Backstage was full of different medicinal smells over the run, due to panto flu doing the rounds. With honey and lemon, menthol, Jakemans and essential oil scents in the air, I was more than happy to keep my headache stick on hand to calm the random dull aches I still get – even though it stinks.

LX Tape

LX tape used to be used to tape cables to bars as it is strong, long-lasting and very stretchy. It is, however, very wasteful so we swapped to velcro. We still use LX tape to mark up props tables, and to fix props in a rush, or to section areas off. I don’t know how I ended up with this red roll when I went to work with a yellow roll though. I’ll be dropping this off at work next time I’m in.

My first cue sheet

When you start a show, your DSM gives you a cue sheet with all your cue numbers and actions on. As the technical rehearsal progresses, your cue sheet changes as cues get added and changed so you end up handwriting a new one. This is mine, and I used it for about a week but I always kept it on me! Obviously, a typed version is given to the DSM to put in the book for when the show happens again, but you don’t really have time to make that until well into the run.
I’ve only shown the second page on the picture, because the first page was filthy, and the third and fourth pages were ripped.

A packet of chewing gum

Some of my cues involved me getting right into the actors’ faces, so I made a secret stash of chewing gum in the stage management cupboard. On the last day, seeing as I’d paid for it, I took what was left of my stash, which was just the one packet.

A Kinder Bueno wrapper

No excuse for this. I’m a scruff.

Lip balm

Tech week is a dry, dusty time, and lots of us get incredibly chapped lips. I started to get an irritated top lip from the Burt’s Bee tube I had, so I swapped to a tub of beeswax lip balm I got from a farm shop. They’ll be staying in the bag for next tech week!

Some of the Show contents

A screw and a safety-pin

I’m not sure where the screw came from. I would have either picked it up off the floor during the show so no one stood on it*, or it’s from the get out – but I’d have expected more than one if it was the latter. The safety-pin was from King Herod’s sleeve, and I pinned it to my bag so I knew where it was should he need it back. Clearly, he didn’t.
*Screws are like hair clips. They appear from nowhere, and you can never find them when you need them.

A craft knife

One of my cues was to sneak behind a door, open it and remove two bolts from the area between the front frame and back frame, which was much more difficult than it sounds! Occasionally, the door would be left locked, so I used the knife to lift the latch open. It didn’t happen that often, but I left the knife in my bag just so save time for when it did.

Concealer

I got given a tiny role in the show, and went on stage three times. I’m prone to getting enormous red spots on my chin, so I kept concealer in my bag for emergency cover ups!

A pen and two sharpies

Once you’ve written your cue sheets, you don’t have to write that much down as backstage crew. I kept the pen and the Sharpies for emergencies, but mostly I used them for colouring in the parts of the black wall that were chipped, while waiting for my cues.

My Leatherman

A Leatherman multi-tool is one of those things that you don’t use that much, but it doesn’t feel right doing a show without it nearby. Mine came in useful a few times for tightening the screws on the camel puppets, and for pulling staples out of things without tearing anything. Like the Sharpies, it just became something I played with in my spare time.

A bunch of sewing needles

I don’t think these are mine, and I don’t know how they got there. I imagine I must have picked them up on the last day, because I’m pretty sure I’d have stabbed myself in the hand repeatedly with them while searching for other things. Like the red LX tape, I’ll be giving these back next time I’m in the theatre.

Sumatriptin

I found a few remaining Sumatriptin in a toiletries bag, so I kept them on hand, just in case of mid show headaches. I didn’t need to use them, but they didn’t take up much room in the bag, so I didn’t think there was any harm in keeping them.


After seeing this all written down, I’m amazed the bag could hold that much! I’m also surprised at how much stuff I carried around that wasn’t really necessary, and how I got through a run without some necessary things like a torch. I cleaned out my bag a few times during the run, so I clearly thought these things were important at the time. I think I just filled the bag to give me an excuse to wear it! It is reassuring to have some of these things to hand, though. Although we have an ‘important cabinet’ on stage, things often go missing from it, so knowing everything I needed was there at my side made the run easier. Next time, however, I’ll try to keep it a bit more organised…
Do you have a work pouch / bag? What is in yours?
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4 Responses to What’s In My Bag After A Show

  • I work from home, so I don’t need a bag. When I’m going to a trade fair all day, then I need a bag. We take the car, where I keep all sort of things, from bottle of water to paracetamol, hair clips. 🙂

  • I find these kinds of posts really interesting too! 😀 Using a bum-bag for shows is such a great idea because you can easily access it. I might have to get something like this when I am out taking photographs. 😀

    I must be living in the past. I had no idea a headache stick was a thing. :O

    You were able to fit a lot of things into the bag. 😀

  • I like hearing about what people have in their bags. I’ve never done one of these posts before, because mine is usually full of sweet wrappers (I’m terrible for forgetting to take them out) and everything else isn’t that interesting. It was nice that you chose to show what was in your work bag, it’s nice hearing about different aspects of your job and why you have certain things. Your job sounds like so much fun!

    I use the same bag for everyday and work, I just take my sandwich box out. I usually just have my lunch, a book, some tissues, chocolate and my purse, because it’s so small! Definitely nothing that would make an interesting post!

  • I know what you mean. I totally like seeing what people are carrying or what they bought too! I thought it was interesting to see all the things in your bag from a show! I think it’s funny that there’s a couple things where you’re like, wait why do I have this XD I also didn’t know that about batteries, but that makes sense when you mention it. I’m glad you’re able to take some home to re-use, so they don’t go to waste. You’re able to fit a lot in your bag!

    As for me, I have a laptop bag to bring to work, in addition to my normal purse. It’s not as exciting, as it just has a laptop, charger, and mouse 🙂

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Uglyfish

A little-bit-of-everything blog by Katy, 26 from Liverpool. Stage Manager and occasional backstage crew. I'm not a hugely exciting person, if I'm being honest...

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