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questions of identity

February 3, 2006

A fighting actor is a person with a role in a play or production, whether it be a named role or ensemble, that requires the actor to engage in staged violence, from an epic duel to a friendly slap. The term ‘fighting actor’ does not imply that the actor has prior experience or personal creative investment in the violence he or she performs. ‘Fighting actor,’ of course, includes those actors who can also properly be called ‘fighters’: those who have a set of skills, interest, ability, and/or experience in stage fighting.

A fight director is the person who gathers and organizes fighting actors for a production, imparts to them the necessary skills, either choreographs or oversees all the choreography, and works with the director in order to enable him or her to use the fights in a safe and dramatically appropriate manner. Working with the director also includes standing up to the director when necessary in matters of safety: weapons choice, rehearsal time allotted, blocking, scope and space mismatch, and any other concerns that arise during the production; a fight director is responsible for the safety of his or her fighting actors, anyone else on stage during fights, and the audience. A fight director must be well versed in a variety of combat skills, armed and unarmed, and be able to teach them effectively no matter the fighting actor in question. A good fight director will have a vision and an aesthetic in mind for the production just as much as the director does, and a fight director never, ever allows, encourages, or participates in pissing contests with the fighting actors.

A fight captain’s job is to be whatever the fight director needs: choreography partner, tutor for the fighting actors, weapons careperson, or second set of eyes. The fight captain may run rehearsal in the fight director’s absence, or run part of a rehearsal at the fight director’s request; this is a very flexible production role. The fight captain should also be experienced in stage combat and be able to communicate well with fighting actors who have a wide variety of backgrounds.

What doesn’t belong in these definitions? What is missing that should be there? What would you tweak, expand, narrow down? I really do want to hear.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2006 5:09 pm

    On the original post, Rogue Monk said,

    I know the standard industy term (also used by SAFD) is Actor Combatant rather than Fighting Actor. However, since it does seem to be a term that assumes proficiency through the SAFD, perhaps Fighting Actor is better for this usage.

    So… never mind.


  2. February 5, 2006 12:05 am

    On the original post, Alaron said,

    The fight captain description implies this, but I might also include a role for the fight captain as a “first line” for problems and concerns of the fight actors, such that the fight director is only bothered with those things that really call for his/her attention. My impression is that in many larger productions time with the fight director can be very limited, at which point the fight captain may play a larger role making sure fights are being practiced, and issues dealt with even when the director is not around.

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