So you’ve wrapped up another successful show at your theatre. Congrats! Now’s time for the fun part (ha!) – cleaning off that stage to prepare for your next performance…also know as set striking. As you begin the process, you may be a bit conflicted on what items to keep and which to throw away. The last thing you want to do, after all, is lose money by discarding the wrong items. On The Stage offers some advice on how to execute a money-savvy set strike. 

Things to Keep:

  1. First off, take stock of all the items on your stage. Ask yourself, which of these items have I used before? Is there a common thread of pieces that keep working their way into my shows, time and time again? You’ll want to store those first, and make sure they’re well-maintained. 
  2. Larger, basic set pieces, like self-constructed stairs, doors, or ramps. No matter the show, you can always rethink their uses and adapt. 
  3. Furniture. Even if the couch has a few holes in the fabric or the table and chairs need refinishing, furniture can be reupholstered, repainted, and presented anew.
  4. All lighting features. Whether those are spotlights, desk lamps, standing lights, or chandeliers, you’ll always need dynamic options for your shows. 
  5. Raw materials, especially lumber. As long as you have a place to store it, keep it – you never know when you’ll need to build something new.

Things to Toss:

  1. Anything time-period specific that you likely won’t use again – whether that’s for a period piece (Les Misérables) or a show set in a certain decade (Disco Inferno). 
  2. Idiosyncratic items relating to your show that will be difficult to repurpose. (Think the big tire in Cats, or Glinda’s iconic bubble in Wicked). 
  3. Cheap or easily replaceable items. Often, it’s more of a hassle to find storage for them than to toss them and head to the dollar store for a replacement. 
  4. Anything that got worn down over the course of your show – no matter how beloved – that would take more time to fix than repurchase/rebuild. Remember, time is money!
  5. Anything that got significantly damaged, or is no longer structurally sound; you have to prioritize safety over your bottom line. 
  6. Anything recyclable. We should all aim to be a bit greener!
  7. Anything that won’t ‘keep’ in storage over long periods. You don’t want to come back after summer break to see disintegrated items, right?  

If you’re keeping:

Remember that proper storage of your items is a must if you want them to last. Consider:

  • Creating an organized filing system or detailed paperwork to reference as you’re cataloging props, costumes, and set pieces. This way, you can easily find items after long breaks. 
  • Renting out a storage space for your larger set pieces – if you have the budget. You can avoid clutter in your creative space but still know your items are safe and sound.
  • Keeping heavier items at the lowest level of your storage space, with the lightest items on the highest shelves. 
  • Ensuring none of your expensive items are on the floor if you live in a place where storms and/or flooding is a possibility. For costumes, place them in garment bags – or even put trash bags over them – to ensure they aren’t damaged if disaster strikes. 
  • Leaving at least two inches of space between items as you store them, especially furniture. You may want to cram as much as possible into a room, but that lends itself to the possibility of damage.

If you’re tossing: 

When we say toss, we don’t always mean throw it away! If you need to get rid of items, consider: 

  • Offering the items to other theatres around town, or other departments within your school  
  • Donating costumes or furniture to places like Goodwill or local nonprofits 
  • Selling items that could turn a profit 
  • Auctioning props and set pieces to raise money for your program 
  • Letting students take home specific items as keepsakes 

Stay safe

As your set strike begins, make sure everyone involved stays safe and prepared. If you’re enlisting the help of your students, be sure they’re in clothes they don’t mind getting dirty, and that they’re wearing sturdy, closed-toed shoes. 

Have personal protective equipment on hand – like gloves, goggles, masks, or hard hats – if you’re dismantling larger pieces. And always have adult supervisors and professionals at the ready to lend a hand. 

If you’re looking to improve your theatre, save money, up engagement, sell more tickets, and create the best programming possible, On The Stage can help with just about everything. Take the first step to creating a more professional theatre experience by booking a personalized demo today.

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