Equity Online Branch Goodies Give Away - 01
Introducing Election Daze

What's in a Stage Manager’s digital tool box?

I have on occasion been referred to as Mary Poppins, one time when a friend was asked at a party I was also a guest at ‘You don’t happen to have, xxx do you? My friend replied, well I don’t but I expect CJ does! I opened my kit bag and yes I had a whistle! I was visiting friends in York at the time but a stage manager is never truly off duty! It’s deep in our psyche.


The revelation of the whistle about my person prompted - wow you are like Mary Poppins. The word had got around! Yes, I can’t go anywhere without a tool kit and a myriad of items that one day might come in handy.

So what about my digital ‘carpet bag’? Before sharing what’s in it I think a definition of the structure of the ‘digital carpet bag’!

Working on the move the apps you use, how you connect to them and the smoothest transition from desk to devices is important. That is the toolkit for this article.

Productivity with digital platforms has to be founded not only on the physical technology but along with the expectation that you might not always have an internet connection.

Many services which rely on third party sign-ins (using Facebook, Twitter and Google to identify you) are not going to be very useful if you are beyond the reach of decent wifi.

There are provisions you can make to keep connected, mobile hotspots and public wifi but what happens when there is a  'not-spot' or a venue's router 'falls over'?

Show conditions aside you need a set of tools to support your work that 'work' without the Internet. This includes having a backup option to maintain continuity should your go-to app be inaccessible. The show must go on and all that! Pre and post production are important too.

I'm writing this on a train to London, mobile signal is patchy, the onboard wifi is not free and I suspect equally patchy. I have a tethering option on my mobile and a mobile hotspot 'MiFi' Box. In the grander scheme... No signal is no signal.

When the connection dies the work goes on. In fact, a lack of connectivity can boost productivity because there is no Facebook and Twitter to distract you.

So for me it’s

My go-to with full connectivity is Google Drive it has good offline provision but is a step removed from Evernote’s click and go plus I don't have all the Google Drive apps all downloaded on every device, you need Gdocs apps to edit offline if you want to edit. It’s good for new docs but if its work in progress the app flip can be annoying.

Evernote on the other hand, I always ensure Evernote is synced from the last device I use before packing to travel. I charge all my tech and sync all devices... always.

Which brings me on to power. Media capture and social posts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, AudioBoom or Snapchat for example, I use these regularly when working events and shows. You might have expected these content making apps to be the subject ‘tools’ referred to in the title.

I guess this article is about the toolbox!

Keeping the power topped up is fundamental. No power, it won't matter how strong the mobile or wifi signal! Portable power cells are common today I have a Powergorilla. It's an investment to my general tech toolkit at £100+ but it’s capable of charging all my devices, I travel with mobile phone, iPad, HD point and shoot camera, DSLR and my MacBook laptop (in my office I have an iMac… sync joy!) I can charge or power all my devices from the one power cell for a couple of hours if I need to. Not simultaneously but it's very reassuring.

So in practice as a digital CM / Social Media Producer, live streaming in Birmingham city centre for New Optimists The Hand That Feeds I ‘reccied’ the venue, an outside public space and located the best vantage point to stream from. Only there was no power provision. I did a 60 min live stream to YouTube off the MacBook’s internal battery and a top up boost towards the end from the Powergorilla. No venue supported power necessary. I don't recommend doing that every time but knowing the capacity of your mobile tech is helpful.

Enjoy the show. http://www.pcmcreative.com/new-optimists.html

By Caron - Jane Lyon
Equity Stage Management Committee & Online Branch Moderator

Written for the 2016 Winter edition of Cueline - The Stage Management Association's quarterly magazine