The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0283 Thursday, 10 February 2000.
Date: Wednesday, 09 Feb 2000 10:49:35 -0600
Subject: 11.0272 DC Coriolanus
Comment: Re: SHK 11.0272 DC Coriolanus
In reply to Mr. Teplitz's enquiry concerning stage combat:
From my own experience, as a professional combat performer and
choreographer, there are many possible reasons for this phenomenon. Mr.
Teplitz rightly suggests that one reason may be an artistic one, that
the director(s) prefer their combat stylized, but this may simply bean
unconscious drive. Many directors don not realise the time it takes for
actors to become comfortable with combat, to be skillful enough in their
techniques to be able to throw caution to the wind and add that
necessary commitment which dallies with edge of danger. Directors
therefore do not allow enough rehearsal time (often because there just
isn't enough time in the three and a half weeks of preparation) for the
choreographer to do the work and for the actors to ingest the process.
Similarly, the combat is a very secondary skill in the casting process
usually, and not all actors are very good at it (I have not seen either
of these performers or this production myself, so apologise ahead of
time). Performing a realistic stage fight, which is now a requirement
thanks to film and TV (which have so many more ways to hide bad
fighting-see, for instance, the DiCaprio-Malkovich "Musketeers" film,
where all fights are filmed so close to the camera and so broken up into
separate cuts that anything could be happening), is a very detailed and
highly developed skill, rather like performing a dance routine.
However, the modern audience seems to think that everyone can fight,
whereas we would not expect the performers to break into a brief
pas-de-deux with any amount of convincing success. And if one partner
may be excellent, the other may be a beginner.
All this is not to argue with your complaint, Mr. Teplitz, but rather to
suggest that staged violence may be ineffective for any number of
reasons other than artistic ones. In my own experience, whether I have
been happy with the fight on stage usually depends upon rehearsal time,
actors abilities, and acting, far more than my own choreographic skills.