The Survival Kit: Standing In, Outdoor Theatre, and Adventures in the Elements

Outdoor theatre is an exciting experiment in the endurance of human optimism that we should all try once. Standing in is a great way to learn your way around a film set, and also supplement your income; you should try that as many times as people will hire you to do so. Both take place in a mysterious thing called “nature,” a baffling and disquieting environment into which most actors fear to tread. Here is a guide to building yourself a survival kit so that you can be prepared for all forms of outdoor acting (and not look like a noob in the process).

1. Sunscreen. Now is not the time to get that summer tan. Protect your skin and prevent continuity issues by slapping on some SPF 500.

2. Bug Spray. A must-have for all outdoor theatre excursions. If you plan on doing this repeatedly, and have sensitive skin, I would also recommend finding a spray that is not pure DEET. Especially if you have recently shaved your legs. Because that stuff burns with the fury of a thousand inconvenienced Starbucks customers.

3. Appropriate Shoes. Keep options in your trunk if you have to. Even if you don’t wear tennis shoes in performance, like as not there will be a lot of rehearsing and waiting during which you won’t want to be in flip flops or six inch wedges.

4. Rain Jacket and Umbrella. What? But why would you ever need two devices for fending off precipitation? Because, I say unto you, even if a plastic poncho does it for you, you may want to protect your belongings from God’s rainy wrath. Also an umbrella doubles as a sun shield. Knowledge dropped.

5. Your Own Seat. This one is especially for stand-ins with long periods of waiting, and for whom seats may not be provided. A light folding chair or bleacher seat might come in handy.

6. Snackage. Pack some food with punch—granola bars, apples, and nut-heavy trail mix are always winners.

7. WATER. Stay hydrated!

8. Pen and Notebook. Just because we’re roughing it doesn’t mean we can slack on actor homework.

9. A Book to Read. Or other form of easily transportable entertainment for long waits.

10. Phone Charger. Don’t be that guy. Come prepared.

11. A Clip. One of those clips that clips to your chair and holds your umbrella . . . you know what I’m talking about. Stay shaded and stylish.

12. Deodorant. Everyone will appreciate it.

13. A Change of Clothes. Keep them in your car, in case the Nature gets too nature.

14. Color Cover. Stand-ins: They will tell you what to wear. But if they say “brown,” know that that could mean anything from dark chocolate to khaki tan. Come with options.

15. Sunglasses. Because the sun, you guys! It’s a problem.

BONUS: Bring a comfortable backpack to hold your survival kit. Yeah, that’s right. Mama didn’t raise no dummies. I am on your side, you intrepid soldiers, and I am here to make sure we all survive the exhilarating world of acting outdoors.

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at