When you start working on a new show at a new theatre, it is very important to learn the lay of the land BEFORE you start rehearsals. Get a tour of the building from the director, producer, another SM – anyone who knows the place very well.
These are the things you should look for and ask about on your tour:
Doors: Where are all the exits? Emergency doors? Will you get a key/alarm code?
Lights: Where are the light switches for the house, stage, work lights, backstage (including running lights), dressing rooms, lobby, booth, etc. How do you turn on the lighting board?
First Aid: Where are the first aid kits? Fire extinguishers? Where is the nearest hospital, police station, fire department? Where is the phone and where are the numbers for those emergency services? Is there someone who is part of the theatre that needs to be contacted about emergencies? Does anyone know first aid? (Hint: you should)
Bathrooms: Where are they? Are there separate ones for actors? Can they be used by actors during the show?
Climate Control: Where is the thermostat? How do you use it? Are there minimum/maximum temps that it needs to be reset to when rehearsal is over? Does it make a loud noise? (Personal experience. Had to turn it on early so the temp evened out and it shut off before the show started.)
Tools: Where are they kept? Especially basic ones like a drill, hammer, staple gun. And ladders!
Supplies: Like glow tape. Is there a photocopier? Printer?
Ultimately, you will most likely be the person responsible for opening the theatre before rehearsal and locking up when it’s over. And making sure everyone is safe.
The Awesome Stage Manager