Tips for a (relatively painless) strike

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Striking after a show is probably the task that most theatre people look forward to the least… if at all.  The show is over, the final bows have been taken, and everyone is eager to get to the cast party — the last thing anybody wants to do is clean up the theatre.  However, if you follow these tips, you can be done strike and out partying in no time!

The goal of the strike should always be to leave the theatre (and any spaces used by the cast and crew during the show) in a state of cleanliness and preparedness for the next show to move in.  It should be even better than how you received it when you moved in!

These tips were supplied by Joe Recchia, stage manager extraordinaire and all-around awesome person.

  1. All hands on deck — part one.

    From the very beginning, make it clear that every single person associated with the show is expected to attend strike.  This is non-negotiable.  Everyone, from the actors to the crew to the producers, needs to attend strike.  The phrase “Many hands make light work” applies here in spades.  Include strike in your schedule from the get-go, and make it clear that everyone is to attend the entire time, whether it be right after closing night or the day after.  That way the excuse “I didn’t know about it” doesn’t apply.

  2. Communicate.

    A few days before strike, make sure to address with the full cast and crew the topic of strike and what needs to get done.  Make lists and post them backstage.   Make sure everyone knows what needs to be done.  The more people who know what’s going on, the less questions will have to be answered later.

  3. Delegate.

    Assign specific tasks to everyone.  Think in terms of categories — set, costumes, props, backstage areas, green room, dressing rooms, washrooms, kitchen, etc.  Separate people into groups and set them their assigned tasks.  You could even make a checklist and have people initial the tasks once they’ve been completed.  Assign one member of the group to act as leader and have them sign off on the entire area once it’s complete.

  4. All hands on deck — part two.

    Nobody leaves until everything is done.  There’s always those last jobs that are particularly tedious that get left until the end, such as sweeping or emptying the bathroom garbages.  Just get them done and over with.  Don’t be the jerk who leaves early and lets everyone else clean up your mess.

  5. Extra credit.

    Wear work clothes (you will get dirty and sweaty) and sensible shoes (steel-toed if you have them!).  Bring work gloves, and an electric drill if you have one.  Every strike I’ve been on has always needed more drills than you’d expect.  Bring water and snacks, or even better, bring extra water and snacks for your fellow cast and crew.

EDIT: Kristina suggested the following in the comments, and I think it’s great!

One more thing to bring if you have it: a head lamp.  One of those little lights on an elastic strap that you can put around your head or hard hat.  Stage work lights aren’t very bright and when you’re under or behind some set piece trying to find the last few screws in dim light, they’re super-helpful. 
Also bring a small snack and drink to inhale right after the show.  Everyone is hungry after a show and I always think that part of what makes people upset that they can’t go party right away is that they are hungry and thirsty.

Do you have any tips that you’ve found useful during strikes?  Share them in the comments!

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One thought on “Tips for a (relatively painless) strike

  1. One more thing to bring if you have it: a head lamp. One of those little lights on an elastic strap that you can put around your head or hard hat. Stage work lights aren’t very bright and when you’re under or behind some set piece trying to find the last few screws in dim light, they’re super-helpful.

    Also bring a small snack and drink to inhale right after the show. Everyone is hungry after a show and I always think that part of what makes people upset that they can’t go party right away is that they are hungry and thirsty.

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