May 7 – Swords and Scenery
This last weekend in our Stage Combat class, we spent the first part of class watching the certification tests of the Cornish College of the Arts students. We have the same teacher, in Geof Alm. They also have another fight teacher, whose name I can’t remember.
There were a lot more Cornish students, about 30 or so, than our puny class of six, which probably explains why they have two teachers and split the students between them. It was interesting to see the differences in the two groups of students. Each group had their own choreography for the three fights.
Geof’s students did the same fight choreography that we are doing, so it was interesting to see how they did. Part of the choreography of the fight is acting while fighting. This is the part we are just getting to in our class. We have to pick scenes from plays for our fights. Talking and fighting at the same time.
For the test the students would introduce themselves and then begin their scene/fight. Some pairs were really good, not just at fighting, but at acting too. The majority were either good at acting, or good at fighting, but not necessarily together.
It was interesting to see what worked in the choreography and what didn’t. Sometimes there was too much talking. Sometimes the talking got all mushed from the fighting and became unintelligible. Some groups worked in short bursts of fighting with short bursts of talking, which I think worked the best in my opinion, and created a syncopated rhythm that was more interesting.
The non-Geof students, the students of Teacher X, got to do scenes from movies and TV shows. There were three scenes from the TV show Firefly, and related movie Serenity, and one scene from Return of the Jedi. This confirms my belief that people who like to play with swords are geeks.
Now this isn’t an insult, I consider myself a geek as well, and I love sci-fi and fantasy shows, movies, and books. Now if you asked people who take stage combat why they are doing it, most would say to increase the skill list on their resume, and make them a more marketable actor, but I say, deep down underneath, it’s because they think swords are cool. And if you perused their bookshelves you would no doubt find incriminating evidence, such as the Lord of the Rings books, or the Starwars Trilogy on DVD.
There are plenty of actors who don’t seek out stage combat until they have to learn it for a part. Those that do, well they are geeks. Especially the ones that own their own swords. The other day, I listened to two sword-owning guys discussing swords and sword makers and sounding so much like Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie discussing which shoes to buy. “Ferragamo? Gucci? It’s so hard to choose, so I had to get them both! (giggle).”