Where Not to Stand (or Preparing for Battle)

26 Jun

The art of producing a play is a lot like a big game of tag. One actor says their line which is a cue for the next actor to say theirs which then either gets a response from the first actor or is a cue for yet another actor to say the next line. And to throw in another dimension, the lines may be the cue for one of the technical folks to get into the act–play a sound effect or change the lights. In essence, each line ends with an unspoken “tag, you’re it.”

IMG_1859This week a new type of blocking was introduced into ECT’s production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe–fight choreography. And after watching our fight choreographer work for a few hours, nowhere on stage is the next cue more important. No question, when two or more people start wielding (fake) swords or other battle implements, missing a cue means someone can get hurt.

Stephen Eliasson works with ECT on fight choreography and had scheduled a few hours to work with Fenrus Ulf, Peter, and the White Witch on their battle scenes. Before he came he had obviously spent some time thinking about the two scenes and how they were going to play out. He had taken notes and knew the steps that each actor would take, how they would stop, lunge, lean, twirl, and block a strike. And even how they would meet their end.

IMG_1824But one of the things that was utmost in his mind was the safety of the actors and the only way to ensure that was to make sure the actor was aware of the cues of their fellow actor. They need to prepare for the possibility that an actor may fail to jump the right way when the sword comes at them. Advice like “wait for her to get her arms fully stretched above her head and holding the staff up in the air before you bring you sword down.” And, “make sure you can see him before you start bringing the staff around.”

IMG_1832Who appears to be in control of the ensuing violence may not be the one who is in control of the actions at all. The appearance of actor A getting shaken by actor B is actually actor A creating the motion while actor B follows along. Such is the illusion of live theatre.

IMG_1910The choreography of battle is no different than the choreography of a dance except the perceived violence involved. And the art is just as difficult. So difficult that there is the Society of American Fight Directors that trains and certifies people like Stephen. Stephen only does this occasionally for groups like ours, but his enthusiasm and understanding shine through, making actors comfortable with swinging objects or their fists at each other and making you, the audience, believe they have landed their blow.IMG_1948

 

One Response to “Where Not to Stand (or Preparing for Battle)”

  1. Becky June 27, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Hi!When is the next practice? I’d like to check in to see if I can help with wardrobe somehow. Becky Schenk-Gonzales

    From: Stagelights To: redbekia@yahoo.com Sent: Friday, June 26, 2015 9:54 PM Subject: [New post] Where Not to Stand (or Preparing for Battle) #yiv4593889064 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4593889064 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4593889064 a.yiv4593889064primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4593889064 a.yiv4593889064primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4593889064 a.yiv4593889064primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4593889064 a.yiv4593889064primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4593889064 WordPress.com | Evansville Community Theatre posted: “The art of producing a play is a lot like a big game of tag. One actor says their line which is a cue for the next actor to say theirs which then either gets a response from the first actor or is a cue for yet another actor to say the next line. And to th” | |

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