As an important part of storytelling, onstage fights have a special role in theatre, moving the action forward, and delving into conflict. While carrying the audience into the truth of the story they need to be realistic, organic and - most of all - safe!
As a tall and physical actress, I originally learned my stage fight craft as a performer and developed my interest into designing and choreographing effective fight scenes.
There are three things I bear in mind when creating and directing fight scenes.
First – and always first – is the safety of the performers and those around them. I create a safe space for actors to work in that frees them from their physical fears and inhibitions.
Second is to choreograph scenes based on the performers’ abilities and physicalities. When beginning to create a fight scene, I need to know which side of the body the actors lead with; what their relative sizes are; who has an old injury they don’t want to aggravate. Once I know that, I can design a fight to their combined strengths.
Third comes believability. I work closely with the director to understand his or her vision to make sure that the stage combat supports the dream and the drama; to ensure the thrill of the fight enhances the story and doesn’t distract from it.
In recent productions, I have designed the action sequences to create different moods, from the blood and violence of a very masculine Macbeth to the gentle and surreal Dragon.
I've trained with the BADC and hold Advanced Stage Combatant qualifications in Unarmed/Knife, Quarterstaff, Broadsword, Case of Rapier, Small Sword, Sword and Buckler.
Working with YoungBlood Ltd, I have taken workshops in Shakespeare’s Swords, Contemporary Martial Arts for Screen and Case of Rapiers (with Maestros Jacques Cappelle and Jonathan Howell). I have also had the brilliant opportunity to train and share at the International Paddy Crean Workshop.