Rehearsal/ Production Notes

I’m a stage director and have switched from paper to scrivener for taking notes during rehearsal.

Before the run, I create a new folder in the binder titled with date. Then while the actors are running I keep my MBA in my lap, hands on the keys. Without taking my eyes from the stage I can hit cmd-N to create a new note, tab into the new note, type the first few letters of the character name (which I’ve entered as cast so scrivener autocompletes and switches to caps), hit return for a new line and type out the note in typical theatre shorthand. Scrivener automatically titles the note with the character name.

At the end of the run, I select the entire folder for the days rehearsal, and select sort under documents. This puts all the notes in alphabetical order by character. I then compile, heading the page with “Rehearsal Notes” and the date. I click off ‘pg break before’ the first of a characters notes, and hit compile. When I hit print, it will print out 1 page per character, with all their notes for the run. I can quickly distribute these very legible notes to the cast members.

I use the @ symbol for ‘all’ for full cast notes, and * for notes I want to give personally, so these print out first and i can read them aloud.

Even better, when I may not see the costumers or the props person for a couple days, I can select multiple folders and search for ‘props’ or ‘costumes’ and print out all the notes for that person, or copy the text and put it in an email. It makes a great checklist as we approach opening.

I know this isn’t at all what the designer had in mind, but it is such an amazing system for this work. I hope to automate some of these tasks as I learn more about the operating system. (I only recently migrated to mac). Maybe I’ll even figure out how to make one of these nifty screencasts to convert more theatre people!


Here is one small trick you can use to remove one keystroke from your notetaking process: prior to starting a rehearsal, give yourself a folder and click on it, and switch to Scrivenings mode. Hit Cmd-N once to create a new file within the folder (otherwise you’ll start typing in the folder), and you’re good to go. Type until you need to switch, hit Cmd-N, continue typing, etc. When in Scrivenings, Cmd-N not only creates a new entry after the one you are editing (so you can do insertions as well as appends if you need), but advances the cursor to the next note, so you needn’t do anything beyond Cmd-N.

Thanks, Amber! That’s a little cleaner.

This is probably old hat to many, but I’ve also discovered CTRL ALT COM 8 will reverse the screen colors, making it easier to take notes in a darkened theatre.