Stage Combat Articles This Week: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks, at the FDC National Workshop in Waterloo, then the process of moving from Toronto to Vancouver. In the meantime, there have been a few news items about stage combat, and I’ve picked three for you today: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

As is the tradition, let’s start with the Bad news:
Hanging around for the credits | Nashua Telegraph

…does “Jersey Boys” really need a fight director? I realize this is a story about some sketchy guys from New Jersey, but c’mon. This wasn’t exactly “Goodfellas the Musical.” Yeah, there are a few Tony Soprano-type moments, but I can hardly remember any real dustups in the play.

You, my readers, know that a few Soprano moments can mean a broken nose if you don’t have a fight director. But that’s not all. He goes on:

…“Romeo and Juliet.” What? I don’t recall any kickboxing or scissor holds in Shakespeare. A fight director for the Bard? Instead, how about a translator for those of us not too well versed in Shakespearean prose?

Is he just being inflammatory? Or is this critic “not too well versed in Shakespearean” anything? Even if the first scene of the play is not depicted as a major Capulet vs. Montague brawl (which it should be, since the Prince has to break it up on penalty of death), there are still two sword fights in which characters are mortally wounded on stage. Does Mike Morin believe a fight choreographer is not needed for major sword fights?

He follows up that article with somewhat of a retraction in his next item. He is schooled by one of the actors from Jersey Boys on the importance of a fight director here: Getting a lesson in musical theatre.

Here’s the Ugly, when things go wrong:

Blanchett injured in stage fight | The Sydney Morning Herald

Edgerton accidentally hit Blanchett in the head with a ’60s-style radio. The impact could be heard in the audience and the actress and STC co-artistic director fell down on all fours. Several people said they could see blood streaming down the back of Blanchett’s head. She went off stage to fetch clothes for Stanley’s wife, Stella (Robin McLeavy), and used some of them to try to staunch the flow of blood.

A spokesperson reported that Cate is fine, and expects to continue the run immediately.

And finally, to end on a positive note, the Good:
Lessons from the experts of theatre |

Kombat Kate provided invaluable pointers for stage combat, demonstrating just how much preparation theatrical fights need to be dramatically coherent, safe and effective. Combat is often the casualty of a short rehearsal period and a hamstrung budget – paying for fight choreography can seem like a luxury to the penniless young director or producer. But it’s not. A slapdash fight in which actors lose concentration and go too fast or slip out of control is a fight in which someone is going to get their nose broken or their ear-drum perforated, not to mention the fact that it will look rubbish on stage. Every fight tells a story in microcosm: working with a good fight director will help ensure that the narrative isn’t garbled.

To have a director publicly recognize the value of having a fight director is heartening. Although we like individual praise and good reviews, what we really need to cultivate is a culture that understands that the job itself is valuable… and in many cases it is indispensable.


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