This week in rehearsal we’ve added a new element to our production, stage combat.
Gods, furies, demi-gods, and minotaurs all living together is quite the recipe for trouble. They battle every chance that they get. Our task is to bring the dangerous monsters of Percy’s life to our stage (in a safe way of course).
Enter Eric Pasto-Crosby! Eric is an actor and a professor at Belmont University, but he is also well known for his stage fighting and is a member of the Society of American Fight Directors. This past Sunday our cast spent a lot of time with him developing fight sequences with all our mythical characters. Most of these fights take place with weaponry including swords, daggers, baseball bats, and knives! While this is a lot of fun, it requires concentration and focus.
One of the first things Eric told us was to “make the weapon an extension of our body.” This might sound weird, but it allows you to have control over the dangerous object in your hand while making you seem more intimidating to the audience. It is important that we know what we are doing. Ares MUST know how to hold a sword correctly; after all, he is the God of War.
An aspect of safety in stage fighting that many are not aware of is having a fight captain. That is my job, and it basically means I know all the “fight choreography” that takes place in the show and can monitor that it is being executed in a safe way. A lot of this comes down to the company knowing what they can and can’t do safely each day. It also involves a “fight call” that takes place before any run of the show. While you are taking your seats, behind the curtain, we will be running all the movements that involve weaponry. This ensures that our cast feels safe and comfortable with everything they are about to do onstage and allows us to feel grounded with our weapon and in our characters.
My biggest take away from our week of combat was the reason why we are motivated to fight onstage. When staging Percy’s first fight in the show Eric said, “We all want to live. We aren’t gonna give up.” As cheesy as that sounds, it is so true. Even before Percy recognizes his destiny, as he is being introduced to the mythical world, he fights. He doesn’t want to fight, but he must. The deep need for survival and life brings us to this intense, monster fighting level.
At the end of the show Percy states that “out there in the world” is “where the real monsters are.” Each battle Percy has throughout the entire show builds to the moral of the story. We all are fighting our monsters and have the will to survive. When you think about it that way- using a sword to fight a minotaur just seems a little more realistic. So, bring on the monsters!