Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Playing with Swords by Emily Fortuna

As an actor eager to maximize the variety of characters that I can portray, I strive to diversify my skills as much as possible. I find I grow the most through the rehearsal process with a role, but with the audition process I don’t have this luxury. There’s a catch-22 – I won’t be considered for these new roles if I don’t show any potential in that direction to begin with. So, I develop these skills on my own time, in hopes that they the seeds will one day have the opportunity to blossom into some fantastic future role.

Stage Combat is one such seed that I wanted to plant, or in the words of Sanford Meisner “add to my actor’s toolbox” to open up new opportunities as an artist. Being passed over for that next Buffy the Vampire Slayer role simply because I hadn’t practiced the skills is a position I simply don’t want to find myself in. This experience was particularly highlighted before taking this class when I worked on a role for a film that did involve combat (surprise!). My unfamiliarity at the time only allowed me to think about the basic mechanics, rather than focusing on the safety of my partner and the overall scene.

Geof Alm’s Stage Combat class has helped me firmly plant this stage combat seed in the ground and get it sprouting. He has patiently shown us that at the root, the stage combat is not hard, but it’s certainly important to practice, practice, practice so we can have the technique in muscle memory, which allows us to focus on other important parts of the fight—like not actually hurting anyone! This dedication to developing technique has helped me make progress not only with stage combat, but also other skills in my acting toolbox that need development, such as physicality.

So far we’ve learned how to attack, parry, and bind with rapier and broadsword, as well as a variety of unarmed punches. We’ve also learned how to fall, roll, and react without hurting ourselves. I look forward to seeing what the rest of our quarter will bring. Plus, it’s fun to play with swords.