Back Stage Tech Etiquette – Avoid the “Donkey List”

I started this post as a top 5 list of activities one should NOT engage in backstage. I call this the “Donkey List”.

Not to be negative about donkeys in particular – this is a reference to Shrek, the movie.



What would be YOUR Top 5 List of Avoidable Activities by Stage Hands?

I’ll start:

  • No Smartphone Use – This is a bone of contention with me. When we’re on the call, we should be present 110% – not glued to a Facebook chat or checking emails. Seriously, my back gets tweaked every time you’re answering a call with your ear buds while we’re pressing 100 lbs. of steel decking.
  • No Bad Mouthing – We’re a team and whether we like it or not, we’ve signed onto the gig and we have to make the most of it. The “show” must still go on and talking smack about the client, the employer, or about our co-workers only spreads a poison that keeps us from collectively producing the best product we can produce.
  • No Forgetting Tools – There are basic tool requirements whether you’re in scenic or lighting or video. I’m not talking about the specialized $400 DMX tester, I’m talking about a screwdriver, a knife, a Sharpie. I try to represent my client in the best possible manner which means that whenever work with a new client, I make sure I’m aware of what the tool needs are. No one will fault you for not reading minds and bringing a carpet kicker (which I DO now have in my trunk), aspire to be Wayne Gretsky, anticipating where the “puck” is going to be and bring tools for the gig. If you don’t know what to expect – ASK>
  • Don’t Show Up Late 
    Here’s the unspoken law backstage:
    -If you show up early, you’re on time.
    -If you show up on time, you’re late.
    -If you show up late, don’t bother.
  • Dress Appropriately
    Seems like everyone should be on the same page but let’s spell it out:
    -Wear all black. Collared black shirts and clean black pants in my car have saved me from being cut from show calls. Avoid logo or branded wear or cover with black gaff whenever applicable.


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