“Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”
In a perfect world, nothing ever goes wrong, the mics never go dead mid performance, the props never break, the cds never get scratched, etc. but in the real world, as the saying goes, “what can go wrong will go wrong” so prepare for it.
Back Up Everything
Everyone knows that CDs get scratched, misplaced, and cracked. I have seen a computer literally shatter a disk in the disk drive. So the first thing that you want to have in your emergency kit is a copy of everything. Even if you keep your stuff on an mp3 player, I would suggest having a copy burned on CD and or flash drive in the emergency kit.
If it can break, get lost, run out of power, connect vital systems, etc., there needs to be a spare in your emergency kit. Batteries go dead, adapters get lost, and arm rod connectors get misplaced. So look at everything you have that you will take on the road with you and ask yourself if it is something that you would possibly have an issue with if you didn’t have it and make sure to have at least one spare in you kit. If you use wireless microphones or battery operated CD players, anything that requires batteries, make sure to keep a good stock of them. To save space, I find it great to have rechargeable batteries (at least 6) and a charger. This way you never run out. Just make sure that you keep them charged.
In your emergency kit, you should have the ability to do repairs on the fly, even if it is a temporary fix. Having the following in a repair and maintenance kit is vital for keeping the puppets, props, and stage in professional shape and working order.
Hammer screwdrivers (flat head & Phillips) pliers
Utility knife blades tape measure
Scissors Stapler & staples Band-aids
Burn ointment sunscreen safety pins
Straight pins screws, thumbtacks, and nails s scotch tape
Hot glue gun & glue Velcro needle & thread
Plug adapters Duck tape (gray & fluorescent) extension cords
Lighter flashlight fishing line
Thin wire Cleaners & spot remover brush & hair spray
And anything else that you can think of that you may or may not need. Better to be safe than sorry.
Duck Tape/Duct Tape
I mentioned duct tape in the above list. I cannot stress this enough that duck tape can save your life. Everything from temporary puppet fixes to prop creation and set construction, duck tape has you covered. In the past I have literally taken an empty wrapping paper roll and used it to keep my duck tape in order. It comes in so many colors now that you can do just about anything with it. In blacklight performances, you can use fluorescent and glow in the dark duck tape to create stage design or even make puppets (long story, but trust me it can be done), so keep every color you can get your hands on in stock and in your kit.
Get It Together
Obviously you do not want to cram all of this together, so have multiple totes, if possible, to have one for maintenance, one for puppet and prop care, one for general first aid and prep and then one for media and cables. How you organize these is left to your discretion.
Another idea as far as first aid, puppet repair and basic supplies is to have every puppeteer assigned to a backpack that contains a personal sized first aid kit for their use, things that they would use specifically to repair situations with their props and puppets and their own copies of skits, music, etc.
The emergency kit is vital to every performance because you just never know.