The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1906 Wednesday, 1 October 2003
From: Stevie Gamble <
Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2003 13:11:06 +0100
Subject: 14.1848 Women Fencing
Comment: Re: SHK 14.1848 Women Fencing
D Bloom wrote, on the distinction between sports fencing and heatrical
>Theatrical fencing -- to my mind -- is supposed to look as much like
> real fencing as the skill, training and rehearsal of the actors can
>Having said that, I will also say that it wouldn't look a great deal
>like modern Olympic-style fencing (even sabre fencing) because
>styles have changed so radically over the past four centuries.
Actually, I would put that as 'particularly' sabre fencing, not 'even';
it is in sword terms a modern weapon useful for people on horseback
bludgeoning other people on horseback, but not much use for anything
else. And the first thing any competent modern fencing coach tells new
students is that if they tried modern fencing movements for real they
would be dead in a few seconds; those structures are predicated on the
assumption that hits, even in the most restricted 'killing zone' target
of the foil, are unimportant in the general scheme of things.
Fighting and fencing are completely different activities; the challenge
for the actor is to convey that without the bloodshed that real fighting
And having said that I suppose I had better admit my biases; my fencing
was done with a foil, but my first weapons' lessons came from a Ghurkha
serving with my father. I don't insist on drawing blood whenever I
unsheathe a knife, but I do remember those instructions as well as my
fencing master's more anodyne prescriptions...
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