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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Re: Stage Combat
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0351  Friday, 18 February 2000.

[1]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Feb 2000 12:31:12 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0340 Re: Stage Combat

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Feb 2000 13:08:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0327 Re: Stage Combat

[3]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Feb 2000 13:08:23 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Stage Combat

[4]     From:   Andrew W. White <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Feb 2000 16:11:17 -0500
        Subj:   Hamlet Moves

[5]     From:   Tanya Gough <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Feb 2000 10:50:38 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 11.0340 Re: Stage Combat

[6]     From:   Nicolas Pullin <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Feb 2000 10:59:27 -0600
        Subj:   SHK 11.0327 Re: Stage Combat



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Feb 2000 12:31:12 EST
Subject: 11.0340 Re: Stage Combat
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0340 Re: Stage Combat

I had much the same experience with Henry IV, 1 last year.  The sword
Hal was carrying (purchased from our friends at American Fencing in SF)
literally fell apart in his hand when Hotspur gave it an overly
enthusiastic swashing blow. The two boys (one of whom was Paul Houck,
kid brother of list member Alex Houck) did the only thing they could do:
a fistfight to the death. They both knew enough about unarmed stage
combat to do it without getting hurt. Strangely enough, it worked.
Luckily enough, it was closing night and I didn't have to come up with a
replacement sword in 24 hours.

Billy Houck
their dad
Arroyo Grande High School

>Another point-a friend of mine still sports a scar over his eye from the
>final stage battle between Hal and Hotspur in HENRY IV, I.  During the
>last matinee of the run, the two combatants stumbled in their
>choreography of a very realistic fight with longswords.  My friend, who
>portrayed Hal, missed a block, and the a iron blade (the tech director
>and fight choreographer was very proud of the authentic swords) bounced
>off his head.  Luckily, the actor playing Hotspur was able to "pull up"
>on the stroke-he could feel the error as it was taking place-but the
>other actor still received a substantial wound.  They both had to vamp a
>bit until they could recover and find a place to resume the fight.  I'm
>certain that the playwright would not have appreciated the rewrite they
>very nearly effected, but I'm equally certain that as an actor he would
>have understood.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Feb 2000 13:08:15 -0500
Subject: 11.0327 Re: Stage Combat
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0327 Re: Stage Combat

Franco Zeffirelli, playing up the "starcrossed" element of Rom.
discussed in a parallel tread, has the less-skilled Romeo trip as he
retreats from the more skilled Tybalt, so that his rapier comes up in
just the position where Tybalt can impale himself upon it as he makes
what he hubristically supposes to be a murderous thrust.  The accidental
quality was even more marked in the stage version that preceded the film
(or at least as I saw it in New York in 1962 or thereabouts), with a
Romeo who did not move particularly well at any point.

Dave Evett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Feb 2000 13:08:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Stage Combat

Dana Shilling sensibly wonders how Hamlet and Laertes could pick up each
other's swords after a (very rare) "double disarm."  The problem, as
Dana points out, is that the swords should still point in their original
directions."  There is a practical answer: you pick up the closest
sword, and a double disarm can be staged so that the opponent's sword is
closer in each case.  But more to the point (so to speak), Dana's
question emphasizes the hidden role of Providence in the final scenes of
Hamlet, as it works to insure that Hamlet has not only the motive, but
the means and the opportunity to effect revenge.

Disarmingly,
--Ed Taft

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew W. White <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Feb 2000 16:11:17 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet Moves

Roger Gross offers a good sequence, post-disarm, for the Hamlet-Laertes
duel:  might I offer one that is my favorite, which I picked up (i.e.,
stole) from a small-sword demonstration at a Paddy Crean Stage Combat
Workshop:

Hamlet disarms Laertes in such a way that he briefly holds both blades,
holds them up side-by-side for inspection.  He then offers Laertes his
own blade in substitute (a simple toss of the right hand, catching it
hilt-up).  The hilt pointed towards Laertes and Laertes' blade (still in
Hamlet's left) pointed across Hamlet's torso, point to the R.

Laertes, hesitantly, reaches for Hamlet's blade, but just as he gets
close to the hilt, Hamlet swings Laertes' blade out swiftly, forcing
Laertes to retreat (and reveal what he knows about the blade!).  With a
knowing grin, Hamlet then tosses Laertes the bated blade, and the final
sequence can now begin.

Love that swashbuckling stuff...

Andrew White
Arlington, VA

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tanya Gough <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Feb 2000 10:50:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Stage Combat
Comment:        SHK 11.0340 Re: Stage Combat

In light of the recent conversation on stage combat, the list might be
interested in investigating the Commonwealth Academy of Stage Arts
(www.casarts.com) which currently unites top-rated fight directors,
theatre historians, dancers and theatre administrators from Australia,
Canada, Great Britain and South Africa.  The website is still in
development, but it's definitely worth a look.  They are setting up a
directory for fight combat consultants and a bulletin board where you
can retrieve fight scripts, and more.

I might also venture to note that John Brogan, certified fight director,
is currently available for courses and seminars.

John is a charter member of the Fight Directors of Canada, a member of
the British Academy of Dramatic Combat and an executive with the
International Order of the Sword and Pen.  He was apprenticed with
Patrick Crean, who is regarded as the father of fight direction.  He has
instructed workshops, set fights and appeared in fight scenes from
Stratford, Ontario to London England.

Further information can be obtained from the CAS Arts website, or by
calling 1-519-244-5131

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nicolas Pullin <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Feb 2000 10:59:27 -0600
Subject: Re: Stage Combat
Comment:        SHK 11.0327 Re: Stage Combat

In response to Dana Shilling's comments re. the double disarm in Hamlet,
there are woodcuts of the period, notably in the fencing manuals of St
Didier and Saviolo, demonstrating exactly such a manoeuvre.  Unlike
modern fencing techniques, early modern rapier fighting was performed
chest on for the most part and with an active left hand.  One of the
best techniques for winning a duel was to seize your opponent's weapon,
usually by closing distance and gripping the hilt of the sword (which
often included rings and sweeps of steel ideal for hooking one's fingers
in).  If one's sword is successfully grasped thus, the standard response
in the textbooks was to mirror the manoeuvre by seizing your opponent's
hilt too: thus, when the duellists break apart, effecting an exchange of
blades.
 

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