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Avengers and stage combatants assemble!

June 15, 2012
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A friend of a friend has a dilemma: without any experience in a particular weapon, he’s been asked to choreograph for it, because he has the most stage combat training of anyone available. When he asked for tips on Facebook, two conflicting points emerged:

1. For safety’s sake, this show needs someone else to fight direct it.

2. This show is back-of-beyond community theater and there aren’t a lot of options, or budget, for fight direction.

I see both sides of this one: It’s safer to have someone more experienced at the helm than someone less experienced. By the same token, it’s safer to have someone paying close attention to the fights than to let the actors and director, who have lots of other things on their minds, thrash it out. (An arrangement that gives us “Just slap him!” and the occasional horror story like this one.) The key would be to tailor the fighting to the skills of the fight director and actors and the time and money allotted to the violence — same as always, really. Bob is the only fight director available and he doesn’t know how to use a bat’leth? Okay, how about scimitars? No money for stage-safe scimitars? Well, a bat’leth is like a sharp quarterstaff, so let’s make it a really brutal quarterstaff fight. Boom. Meeting in the middle. (And we’ll add some yelling in Klingon. Oh, draaamaturg!)

But the best thing that came out of the Facebook discussion was a suggestion to “activate the phone tree” — that is, go to the Society of American Fight Directors site, see who’s in your area, and get in touch, starting with your regional representative.  Theater folk are busy bees, so give anyone you reach out to plenty of time to respond, and be sure you’re not asking people to do your work for you, for free, over the internet. That said, you may very well find someone who’s happy to chat about ideas, safety, technique, weapons vendors and rentals, or any of the things that make our violent hearts go shhhing!.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. MacRican permalink
    June 15, 2012 3:57 pm

    I actually have a book on bat’leth use. It basic breakdown of a Kata used with the weapon that published about ten years ago. Paramount found out about it and put the lavash on it but a few copies are still know to exist. I’d like to make a point here though…there are NO stage Combat ready bat’leths available anywhere without them being a custom made piece. There cheap Pakistani made or machined pieces from sheet metal that MIGHT have a temper. If it does, it is a crappy one. I would advise this fight director with little to no experience in bat’leths to keep this in mind with fight sequences. Also please note that commercially available bat’leths have some sort of edge on them, so they should be filed down well and de-burred after practices (maybe even during the class). Just my two cents on this subject 🙂

    • June 15, 2012 4:19 pm

      I was actually thinking of you when I concocted the bat’leth example — which, I should have made clearer, is just an example! The guy is not named Bob, nor does his production want a bat’leth fight. Judging by your comment, that’s probably a really good thing!

  2. MacRican permalink
    June 15, 2012 4:27 pm

    Ahhhhh, it all makes sense now. Well then, let this be a lesson to you….I got nuthin’. Though I’m in semi-retirement I still try and keep on top of things. Your example hit home with me though because I wanted to do a bat’leth fight at one point at that show we used to work at. *sigh* maybe someday. I’ve actually been pondering having a stage combat version of the Vulcan Lirpa put together 😉 but with no venue to work and no job to fund it, it’s just a twisted dream, hehe

    • June 15, 2012 4:56 pm

      Hmmm. I think Nathan DeCoux at Gotham could do a good bat’leth; I got to see his aircraft aluminum pieces in action in a Macbeth and they were amaaaaazing.

      I like the curved blade at the top of the lirpa, but what use is that GIANT counterweight? It would be awesome as a foam weapon, though.

      • MacRican permalink
        June 15, 2012 5:05 pm

        Playing star trek online has introduced me to a new version Lirpa with four flanges at the bottom instead of the hyooge counterweight. I send you picture later 😉

        You know my sword maker of choice and that I’d have to get steel muahahahaha! Though Nathan’s stuff is indeed very nice 🙂

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