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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: September ::
Women Fencing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1863  Friday, 26 September 2003

[1]     From:   James Doyle <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Sep 2003 12:46:13 +0100
        Subj:   Fencing and Stage-Fighting

[2]     From:   James McNelis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Sep 2003 09:18:03 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1848  Women Fencing

[3]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Sep 2003 09:49:05 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1858 Women Fencing


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Doyle <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Sep 2003 12:46:13 +0100
Subject:        Fencing and Stage-Fighting

James McNelis says that while stage combatants shouldn't be surprised,
an audience should be enthralled.

I agree, but find that virtually all stage fighting I see leaves me
fuming with its lack of authenticity.  As someone who has fenced (not
even 6th place for me, though!) and also fought in historical
reconstruction, the guiding principle of sword fighting is that you
defend yourself to the maximum possible extent and look for an opening
in your opponent's defence (in fencing, it is creating that flaw which
is key).

Stage fighting which is much more (apparently) aggressive, and to those
in the know often appears patently ridiculous with the lack of defence
offered.  I find stage fighting difficult, as my instinct is to take the
openings inevitably offered almost as soon as my opponent raises their
weapon.

I have choreographed fights twice - once in R&J, where we used rapiers
and traditional fencing technique, I played Mercutio and coached both
Romeo and Tybalt in their moves; the other was in Coriolanus, where I
(playing Coriolanus) fell out badly with the fight choreographer and
ended up doing it myself in cooperation with the actor playing
Aufidius.  In both cases, I worked out what I considered to be realistic
fights, with lots of defence and patient control.  And in both cases,
audience members (not fencing experts) commented how much they had
enjoyed the duels and how much more 'real' they seemed than normal stage
fights.

James

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James McNelis <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Sep 2003 09:18:03 EDT
Subject: 14.1848  Women Fencing
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1848  Women Fencing

Information on the staging of the fencing scenes in Flynn's and many of
the other great swashbuckler films can be found by searching the web for
"Ralph Faulkner", the Hollywood master who choreographed and coached for
many of the films, and often doubled for one actor or another when
necessary or prudent; see, for example,
http://fencersquarterly.com/RF/RF.htm.

James McNelis
Wilmington College

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Sep 2003 09:49:05 -0700
Subject: 14.1858 Women Fencing
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1858 Women Fencing

Graham Halll writes:

There was an (? actor's union) rule I vaguely recall - possibly someone
can expand - which determined that when a production had a sword fight
there had to be a rehearsal conducted within half an hour prior to
curtain up for purposes of safety.

We still have these 'fight calls' before each show (usually one hour to
forty-five minutes before curtain). The fight captain takes each of the
actors and actresses through the choreography to ensure they have
remembered it and that the moves are still safe.

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