==What is a prompt script?==
The prompt script is essentially a stage managers bible for any given show. Generally a prompt script is composed not only of the script of the show, but any other information that the stage manager needs to have readily available at all times. This could include a production calendar, cast list, contact sheet, rehearsal/performance reports, notes, the script (of course!), and many other items. The prompt script is a tool that allows the stage manager to effectively run rehearsals and performances, and, in the worst case scenario, provides someone else all of the relevant information for running rehearsals or performances.
The prompt script is used by the stage manager to keep all production information organized and on hand. During rehearsal, the prompt script is used for a variety of purposes. First and foremost, it is a script, thus allowing the stage manager to follow along as the actors rehearse and provide line prompts if the actors need them. The second major job of the prompt script during rehearsal is for the stage manager to record (and update) blocking information for each actor so that if there is ever a question about blocking or if there are put-ins or understudies going on the stage manager can give the correct blocking. The prompt script is also used to record any cue information for all aspects of the production, lights, scenery, sound, acting, etc.
During the performance period of a show, the prompt script is used by the stage manager to call the show. By the time the performance period starts, the stage manager should have all necessary information recorded in the prompt script to be able to effectively run the performance and call any and all cues that need to be called. The prompt script should also contain all run lists and crew assignments so that the stage manager knows who is where and doing what at any given time during a performance.
=Assembling a Prompt Script=
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 wont 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 wont 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:
Check in records
Crew contact information
Pre/Post Show setup/breakdown check-lists
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