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The Great Storage Struggle: What to Do With All That Stuff

After a show closes, there is often a ton of stuff left over – set pieces and flats, furniture, costume items, props, makeup and hair products… the list goes on and on!

Ideally, your school would have some sort of storage area where you can keep items to reuse for future shows, which saves time and money in the future. Depending on your school’s facilities, this may be a full-sized room for your drama department, or it may be as small as a closet within your classroom. Either way, there’s always only a finite amount of space. So what do you do with all your production stuff? Here are some suggestions for you!

  • Cull ruthlessly. If an item can be easily replaced (from the dollar store or a thrift store, for example) or found in a student’s closet (such as basics like jeans and t-shirts), you don’t need to keep those in stock. If an item is worn out or broken, let it go. If an item hasn’t been used in a really long time, get rid of it!
  • Keep a strict inventory of what items you have in stock. Make a note of anything that has been added, removed, or altered, and the last time it was used. This way you’ll know exactly what you have and how often it’s actually been used.
  • Repurpose as much stuff as you possibly can. Set pieces can be changed with paint and décor; furniture can be reupholstered or covered with slipcovers and blankets; lumber can be cut down and reused; costumes can be altered (just be sure that any alterations can be reversed).
  • Try to dismantle large items (such as flats or set pieces) so they are as flat and compact as possible, which makes them easier to store. Wood can be stacked neatly. Large pieces might be able to be stored upright in a garbage can (or something similar).
  • If you know another school or theatre company is doing the same show as you in the near future, find out if they would like to rent or borrow your items. They may be willing to hold on to your items for an extended period of time, with the understanding that your school can get the items back in the future if and when you need them. Or, rather than keep oversized items in stock all the time, see if you can borrow or rent what you need from other schools or theatre companies.
  • Speak to local thrift stores to find out if they’d be willing to arrange a rental program with you – in exchange for frequent or bulk purchases for your production, they might be willing to give you a price reduction, or let you return/exchange the items or give you store credit for future productions. This way you don’t have to keep as many items in your storage area and can save a bit of money on future productions.
  • Give other departments leftover items if they are useful to that class (wood/metal for shop classes, fabric/costumes for fashion or family studies classes, paint and art/craft supplies for visual arts classes, and so on).
  • If you know you won’t be using certain props or costumes again in the future, let the students keep them as souvenirs.
  • Alternatively, you could auction or raffle off props or costume pieces (maybe even have your students autograph the items) to raise a little cash!
  • Some hair and makeup items can be sanitized and carefully stored for future use. Items such as mascara and eyeliner should either be supplied by the students using them or disposed of after use, to avoid germs.
  • If you are disposing of items, be sure to research proper disposal rules and regulations for your municipality. Try to donate or recycle as much as possible, to keep items out of the landfill.
  • If it’s possible within your budget and okay with school regulations, look for alternate, off-site storage possibilities such as renting a storage unit.

If you have some more great storage ideas, share them with us! Good luck, and happy organizing!
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