A Practical Look at the History of Stage Combat and Production of Weapons
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Throughout time, man has been exposed to violence in many forms, whether it is school children in a tuft on the playground, or simply watching a nature program highlighting predatory animals. Fighting and violence are a part of nature and a part of humans as a species. One of our basic instincts is "fight or flight", the psychological . theory that our nervous system reacts to outside threat by priming our bodies to fight, or retreat. This process takes place on the most primitive level of our psychological buildup, along with our instinct to eat and drink. This instinct has played a vital role in theatrical performances since the days of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan stage. There have been many notable stage fights ranging from Tybalt and Mercutio' s showdown, to Stanley's assault on Blanche. Stage fighting is not simply just a display of aggression, for it has the ability to drive character actions and feed the actual text of the play. Over the last three years, I have been intrigued by the spectacle of these fights and the ingenuity it takes to bring them to life on stage. Growing up, I fought with my cousin using sticks, PVC pipe, or anything in the garage; however, it wasn't until my freshman year at Kalamazoo College that I had actually picked up a stage weapon and learned choreography from an experienced fighter. Learning under Jon Reeves, I have taken special interest in the fights of the Shakespearean stage and how to honor historical accuracy. For the past four months I have been studying not only swordplay and choreography, but also the production of the theatrical weapon.