Dueling practice at the BAG | Encore | Squamish Chief, Squamish, BC

Here’s an excerpt from a write-up on my recent work in Squamish on the Princess Bride they’re mounting there:

Dueling practice at the BAG | Encore | Squamish Chief, Squamish, BC.

“The sword fighting needed to look good because it’s such an essential component of the production,” said Fuhre, “And of course we need make sure the actors are safe.”

David McCormick, the stage combat instructor for Vancouver-based Academy Duello, came for an eight-hour session with seven Princess Bride actors to teach them swordplay techniques, footwork and to choreograph all the sword-fighting scenes.

He also choreographed the scene when Westley strangles Fezzik the giant.

McCormick said after eight hours the actors did well, but the more fight combat training people have, the better.

“Fight choreography is generally done with people who have some experience,” said McCormick. “It’s not easy to take people who have never picked up a sword before and take them from zero to performance ready in a few hours.”

For those who wonder how one can take actors who have never held a sword to performing choreography on the level of Princess Bride, here’s a few hints:

  1. Rolling 5’s, “Baronial Hall” (rolling 4’s), and Churchbells (1-2) are simple to learn and generally look dynamic to the audience
  2. The Canadian Shuffle (4-2-3-7, repeat) is an excellent way to move actors across the floor
  3. This may sound harsh, but really examine the Princess Bride… it’s a Basic Actor-Combatant level fight. Apart from the acrobatics, any Basic can perform it

The hardest part? The two main actors had to learn everything twice to have sequences with left and right hands. What a day!

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