Production Paperwork Background

Show Production Paperwork Examples and Resources

Pieces of Show Production Paperwork I have created and used for student and professional productions are displayed below.

Just a few notes before you get started:

Due to GDPR laws and data protection regulations any paperwork with any personal data beyond names will not be displayed. This means that you won’t be able to find examples of items such as cast registers, contact sheets and measurement sheets.

The items below are a result of my own development and will be designed and formatted in a unique way. There is no standard for show production paperwork developed in this industry in general, but there may be institution-specific sets of guidelines that regulate how you should develop documentation depending on your client/employer. Having said that, I’ll note in the descriptions of documents below the significant details that I think achieves the purpose of the document in an efficient and effective way.

Because I am a British Stage Manager, working in the British entertainment industry, I have to remind anyone internationally that I will be describing roles as they are in my own country, which essentially means the ‘Stage Manager’ in the US system is split into the ‘Stage Manager’ and ‘Deputy Stage Manager’ in my country.

For best viewing of PDF documents, use a laptop or computer.

Click the items below to jump to specific documents:

Stage Management

Actor-Scenic Breakdown

A document typically made by the Deputy Stage Manager

This one here is very basic, with only the entrance and exit points listed and no other details. More detail is usually added in the entrance/exit plot which is made towards the end of the rehearsal period by the DSM.

I have colour coded the characters, but as there is no character changes in this musical there is no changes to the colours in the breakdown for each actor, so this example is very simple.

Opera ASM Running List

This is a running list I made while an Assistant Stage Manager for the opera ‘La Fedelta Premiata’. It’s the first instance of using a running list digitally, using my Surface Pro to display and make notes on throughout. The landscape orientation suits the way that I viewed it on my tablet.

Details for cues have been added where neccessary, with diagrams and additional notes being added to the right.

It is extremely important to have the time and score reference for each cue in the running list. This is to ensure that you can find yourself in the score if needs be (by asking the DSM for a score reference if lost) and to ensure that you know how long you have between cues in case you need to undertake an extra task during a performance (and that can happen quite regularly).

Opera Setting List

This document can apply for the most part towards a drama and musical also as there are no significant differences.

A diagram of the stage is important to be able to visualise where a certain prop goes, even better if there are photos of the prop in the exact place where it needs to be!

The setting list will be used as a shout check sheet so that is why there are little boxes to the right of the prop name.

A ‘stage setting’ column was added to ensure that we knew which set elements (doors, tructs, etc) were positioned for the top of the show. These are extra things that need to be thought about as well as pre-setting props.

Musical Rehearsal Report

This document is a close collaberation with the DSM and SM at the end of each rehearsal day.

You can choose to either add all the departments or just add the departments that have notes. I did the latter of the two.

The rehearsal report is a pretty simple concept but one that people (myself included) find quite tricky to do well. This is because, aside from this being one of the last things to do at the end of a presumably busy day, you must be clear and consise with every note as to not cause any confusion or lack of communication. Oh, and triple check your spelling!!

Musical Show Report

This documents purpose is to note any significant events in a performance, and any mishaps that affected the performance, as well as details such as audience numbers and running times.

The document is used in the short term to highlight anything that needs sorting for the next performance, and the actions/steps taken during a performance to resolve an issue safely and effectively.

In the long term, this document should be used to ensure that running times are staying similar (ie, not getting much shorter or longer) and the creative integrity of the performance is being upheld.

Musical Actor Rehearsal Call

The Stage Manager makes this document as soon as possible (at least 12 hours prior) between two rehearsal days. It is a document that should give the actors time to prepare for what is going to take place in the rehearsal room and what times they are required for. It is a good tool to use to set goals for what is to be achieved in a rehearsal day and therefore is a good tool to track progress to ensure that the production is in a good place.

A dicussion between the Stage Manager and Director at the end of each day will give a good outline of what will need to be included on the rehearsal call.

Musical Musician Rehearsal Call

This is a document that can be created if requested by the Musical Director for their rehearsals, however it is not often that musicians are given a detailed rehearsal call. They will be included in a merged actor/musican rehearsal call on significant days such as a read through or sitzprobe. The calls will be merged also from the technical rehearsal period onwards.

Rough Notebook Notes

Anybody and everybody can make rough notes at any point. I’ve found it great to have a little notebook in the back of my pocket at all times so that I can take the notes that I need to anytime.

This document has been uploaded mainly to show that not every document has to look neat and perfect, we all start from something basic and build up from those foundations. It is not usually expected to have final fancy running documentation until final dress rehearsals/opening night.

Prop Options Sheet

This document is made mainly to collate a list of options that you may have found for a certain prop. It is a good way to effectively show the designer the options you have and get a good answer straight away in a discussion. Maintaining a certain style with this document from day one will be good as the designer will know what to expect if you have to present them with options on multiple occassions (especially in very prop-heavy productions).

Detailed Props List

This document is made by the Stage Manager and has all the details of the props developed from a basic props list, with information as to the progress of the prop (from being cut, ordered or in the rehearsal room) all the way to its specific uses and requirements. It is not a prop bible as that document displays an image of the prop along with its description, dimensions etc.

Costume

Costume Assistant Running List

This document is a development of the running list I had made while an ASM for an opera a few months back. I used a digital format then and it worked exceedingly well, so I used the same concept for this show role. I added a notes column and made better use of the page to apply it to the digital format which I hope can be seen.

A costume assistant running list can vary. This production was incredibly busy with costume changes happening every 30 seconds with some incredibly quick changes that involved the whole cast at once….with two of us dressers. The importance of getting the essential details of which actor was changing into which character was essential and therefore the decriptions for the cues in this running list are fairly simple with CHARACTER —> CHARACTER being a quick way to get the information needed. There were supporting documents with a photo of each costume on each actor for anybody that might have needed to fill in to digest before going into a performance.

Costume Assistant Research

This is an example of research I carried out for this production, which takes place over several decades and had some specific characters in the play (such as someone in a Polar Bear costume). Everybodies research style is different, but in costume it is imperative to get the styles represented thoroughly in your research.

Automation

Automation Operator Cue Sheet (eChamelion)

This document is automatically generated by the eChamelion software after programming a shows automation. This one was quite easy with only a couple axis to monitor, and used the deads (document below) to remember certain stops.

This document is important to get all the details possible about the commands being sent in a cue to establish the cause of any problems if any malfunctions happen in a performance.

Automation Programmer Deads List (eChamelion)

A document made by the Automation Programmer and generated automatically by eChamelion once all the deads have been established in the software. This is good to understand where on an axis each dead has been recorded and will help speed up the programming time when in technical rehearsals as a automation programmer.