Assembling a prompt script is a fairly easy task. To start out you only need a few basic supplies and the ability to make nice to a photocopy machine.
The first thing you will need for your prompt script is a large, sturdy binder
. Do not try to use a fifty cent binder for this, it will fall apart. Usually you will want one that is between 2" and 3". There are many ring types to choose from, picking one is up to your personal preference. It is important to pick a binder that is heavy duty and won’t fall apart, and some people like to have binders that have some kind of closing method for transporting it.
For the actual photocopies of the script that you will be making it will behoove you to choose a paper that is not lightweight so that it will stand up to the abuse of being flipped many times. Also, you will probably want to invest in some kind of reinforcement system for the edge
of your pages that will be hole-punched. There are three basic ways to approach this, one is to use the self adhesive reinforcements, which is probably the most time consuming method. However, you can do this "as needed" and only repair holes that tear. Also, just reinforcing the outer two holes can save time. Second would be to fold a piece of packing tape over the edge of the page
and punch through that. And the third option, which is the most expensive is to find paper that comes with one edge reinforced (yes they make it, it is just expensive and uncommon). See the comments for suggestions on reinforcements.
The last thing you will need to set up your prompt book is an indexing system. This extends from the entire binder down to divisions in the script. For dividing your binder just pick up some 3-hole dividers, as many as you may need. They are simple to use and very effective.
For dividing your script, you need to choose your method of divisions, scenes, french scenes, musical numbers, etc. Once you know how your script is divided, you should use the narrow sticky notes to mark
the page of the beginning of each division. You should stagger your sticky notes so that you can see them all, and you should put a piece of packing tape over them to make sure they stay in place.
“Mounting” Your Script
Mounting your script refers to the method which you put the text of the script into your prompt book. The important things to keep in mind are that you want to preserve the text layout
so that you are always on the same page as the actors, director, and any other people with scripts, and you want to leave space for you to make notes around the text, and record cuing information as well.
• The most common method for mounting your script is to photocopy the pages onto the center of an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. This method can be expensive, but it means that you won’t destroy the original script and you can make as many copies as you may need. The major downside to this method is that it takes some finesse with the copy machine and can get costly in terms of number of pages. If you don't want to spend the time on this, take it down to your local copy center who will be able to do it much faster for you.
• The next method is the paste up method. This method requires you to photocopy your script with two pages side by side on one 8.5x11 sheet of paper. You then take the photo copies and cut them in half and mount each page onto the center of another piece of 8.5x11 paper.
• The third method is a combination of the previous two known as the windowpane method. In this method you would photocopy the entire script on the 2-up style of the paste up method, and cut the pages apart. Then you create a frame with any relevant organizational information as a template
for recording cueing and other information. The frame should have a hole that is the same size as one page of text from the script so that you can place the frame in the photocopier and then place each page of the script in the frame thus creating a uniform look for each page of your prompt script.
The Opposite Page
When setting up your prompt script your pages have the text of the script on one side, and the other side is used for recording blocking and any other notes that may help in keeping the production running the way it was rehearsed. The opposite page is laid out to the personal preferences of the stage manager, but traditionally includes a mini groundplan, a space to write down blocking, a notes space, and a key to blocking notation.
After you create a layout for your opposite page you need to decide how you want your script to read. Some stage
managers like to have the opposite page on the right for ease
of writing blocking, while others like to have it on the left so it is out of the way. This is entirely a personal preference choice, and the only thing it affects is which side you have to hole-punch.
Organizing Your Script
Prompt book organization is a very personalized part of stage management. Every stage manager will find a system that works for them, yet may not be as efficient for someone else. The following organizational system will provide the basic needs for what should be included in your prompt book, but you should feel free to adapt it to fit your personal style or the demands of the show. The basic sections of your book should include:
• Schedule information
• Cast information
• Contact information
• Check in records
• Medical information
• Food preferences
• Crew contact information
• Rehearsal/Production Reports
• Tech Plots
• Character/Doubling Plot
• Light Plot
• Costume plot
• Sound Plot
• Pre/Post Show setup/breakdown check-lists
• Meeting minutes
• Actor notes
• Director notes
• Tech notes
• Run Lists
• The script