The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0322 Tuesday, 15 February 2000.
From: Perry Herzfeld <
Date: Tuesday, 15 Feb 2000 17:40:41 +1100
Subject: 11.0302 Re: Stage Combat
Comment: Re: SHK 11.0302 Re: Stage Combat
One of the most amusing things that happened to me while I was acting at
school was to do with Shakespearean sword fighting. We were doing a
production of King Lear which was going absolutely wonderfully. For the
climax we obviously had Edgar and Edmund having a sword fight, and thus
they had been duly trained by a professional and equipped with swords.
These swords were broadswords, so they were big, thick pieces of metal
that looked very sturdy, and made great sparks when clashed together.
The whole fight was very spectacular. But, on the third night Edgar's
sword started to bend with every stroke he took, until by the end of the
fight he could not run Edmund through because he sword looked more like
a scythe and he thus had to chop at Edmund a la a peasant chopping
A similar thing happened on the next and final night to Edmund's sword
which actually snapped in two halfway through the fight sequence,
forcing it to come to an abrupt halt.
The entire audience saw everything of course, especially the appalling
attempts by the surrounding actors not to laugh. Perhaps this is a
justification for highly stylised combat, i.e., the swords should not
touch if they are even allowed on stage at all!