Jan 24 2010

a big day on Friday

I had a rather full day on Friday. It began with a meeting and brainstorm session with Jenny Salisbury, then playtime with Scott Moyle, and then watching Such Creatures at Theatre Passe Muraille. It was a great day for the project. We came up with some answers, like more exercises for the experimentation period, and came up with many more questions which are helping to more specifically determine what we’re going to address during the 18-week experimentation period.

My time with Jenny began as an interview where I asked her about her impressions of fight scenes.  Not surprisingly, she had a lot of the same frustrations that Emily did (not surprising because they seem to be the same frustrations we all have when watching or directing fights).  More interesting, though, is that Jenny had very different solutions for addressing these problems.  As Matt was home, we got some of these ideas on their feet immediately, using a fight we had choreographed and performed last summer.  The different nuances exposed during this work were quite striking, and one thing became very clear: this kind of work requires that the performers know and be confident with the choreography, their own bodies and their partner.  In fact, I might be so bold as to say that this work would be very difficult, if not almost impossible, with people who have any fear of their use of the weapon and the movement.  The exploration can’t quite happen until you’re “off book” with your actions and technique.  It’s a bit like a road trip: if you’re thinking a lot about how to drive the car, you’ll still get from point A to point B, but you won’t have the mental space to enjoy the scenery or to have a decent conversation on the way.

I’m very excited about future sessions with Jenny.  Our plans include exploring movement systems, and looking at various learning styles

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Jan 21 2010

Meeting with Emily

I just had a meeting with Emily Oriold about an actor’s approach to the scene.  By connecting various methods of analyzing scenes to various ways to dissect a fight, we started developing exercises for rehearsing scenes, which I’m going to apply to the first round of workshops!

The premise is to find ways to help actors connect to a fight scene they way they do a text scene.  I have observed that some actors have trouble expressing the action as well as they do the text, which is part of the reason why many shows have a disconnect when the violence begins.  By developing exercises to increase their ability to express action as easily as they do text, I think we can then help actors over this hurdle.

Please feel free to leave suggestions and ideas in the comments area to help us build on these concepts.

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Jan 7 2010

And they’re off!

I found out that I got the grant on November 17, 2009.  I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t get it, trying to avoid disappointment, only to find out that yes, I would be traveling to study with some of best Fight Directors I know of, and people whose work I have admired for a long time.  I was so excited I could hardly sleep that night!  Shortly after I received confirmation, I started confirming plans with the Fight Directors.

Plans, however, quickly grew.  The original concept was that I would spend 6 weeks with each of these gentlemen, during which time we would conduct some experiments and workshops.  Brad Waller then came up with a great idea.  Geographically he’s relatively close, so I’ll be spending about week with him and his students every 2 months or so.  This will allow me to observe more of his classes, and to track his students’ development.  I can see what is working best for them, and what information is most useful to them.  This is one of many ways that I will be gathering information so that when the 6-week experimentation periods come at the end of the year, I can be confident that I have covered as many bases as possible.

So, my first visit with Brad is coming up at the end of the month!

It’s funny though.  After applying for the grant last summer, I’ve already been thinking a lot about how we communicate stage combat technique and choreography.  I’ve even had a few opportunities to try things out in classes I’ve taught and shows I’ve been working on.  It’s rather obsessive.  I think about it all the time.

Let’s see where it goes…

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