“For two exhilarating days, I and the other participants in the ‘Altercations in Shakespeare’ stage combat/acting workshop slapped, punched, kicked and strangled each other and fought with ‘broadswords’ (kindly made for us by the Clairefontaine gardener). We emerged unscathed (ironically, the only bruises were sustained by students beating out rhythms in a singing class!).
"For Mike McCormack, our fantastic tutor, safety is the absolute priority (“If it isn’t safe, it isn’t convincing...”). We practised basic unarmed and armed stage combat techniques, in which the reaction of the ‘victim’ and follow-through by the ‘attacker’ help create the illusion of physical violence, and the ‘victim’ often leads. Mike constantly stressed the importance of releasing tension, checking distance, establishing eye contact and finding rhythm and balance.
“We worked on scenes from Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew where fights break out, looking at Shakespeare’s language and rehearsing the moments leading up to fights, and starting to develop a set of choreographed fight movements.
"The work was fun, sometimes counter-intuitive, and hugely challenging, as actors have to be fully engaged in the acting of often intense scenes, while handling complex choreography (particularly challenging for me!) and classical text, and staying safe! “