CHECK LISTS: I am a big fan of the “actual” check list. What I mean by this is checking something off and looking at it each and every time. I came to this realization when once, in a large regional theatre, the SM started the show without a couch in place and we had to bring it in. So, especially in a long-running show, and I have done a few of these, it is very possible to believe you have everything in order but like the impression left over by a stamp, your brain tricks you.
So, I was training a stage manager on a production of “Strange Snow”. On the set there was a break-away window that needed to be replaced every night. The actor had to punch through the glass in a pivotal scene in the first act. As a safety check, the curtains were left hanging down when the hard plexy was in place and for the top of the show, they were tied up, revealing the sugar glass window.
It was nearing the time for the actor to do his punch and I was observing the replacement SM from their little perch in the back of the 99 seat house. I looked up to see, the curtains hanging straight down. Well, I shot down that ladder and around to the backstage. I pulled the nails out of the plexy on the window (knowing that my “method” actor would punch it no matter what) and sweating with a leko aimed directly my back, carefully put the plexy on the ground. I picked up the sugar glass and had just gotten the third nail in to it when I heard the cue. I ducked and the sugar glass shot over my head.
Needless to say, the replacement SM believed me about my check list after that.