I was in a play in which I played a male character. The director wanted my character to be in a fight. He staged my character to be kicked in the stomach and brought to the ground. Sad fact is that I and my stage partner were inexperience in this stage combat. As a result, one of us got hurt.
Stage combat is also called fight choreography. If actors have no experience in stage combat, an expert or trainer must be hired. Usually, these trainers have ample practice and are qualified as stunt doubles, stunt actors, or stunt performers. Stunt actors with stage fighting skills frequently have backgrounds in dance, gymnastics, or martial arts training.
It must be remembered that stage fighting must be rehearsed. Perhaps more so than the line rehearsal. The number one objective is not to get hurt. The second objective is to make it look real to the audience.
I have seen two injuries during stage combat which has made me quite particular about fight choreography training. Recently, a member of our staff was able to train two actors for a fight scene in our film Pedro the Puppeteer. We will also need fight choreography for a play we are workshopping called The Mussel Slough Chronicles – A California Tragedy.
Regardless of how simple a fight scene is, actors must be trained and ample rehearsal to make sure that injury can be prevented. Trust me on this. The injuries discussed in this article were mine.
Silvia Gonzalez Scherer
Executive Artistic Director, HMTC