FORTE STAGE COMBAT CHOREOGRAPHY
Why use Forte Stage Combat?
We have choreographed the sword and hand to hand fights for several dozen productions - and this experience has led to the development of very specific teaching techniques. We specialize in training the performer who is completely inexperienced in the art and practice of swordsmanship. Because of this we arrange the fights for many operas, smaller professional companies, liberal arts colleges, community theatres and high schools. Our true forte is working with students! We have several choreographers available, all of whom are educators at either the collegiate or secondary levels.
Our goal is simple: to create a safe, realistic looking fight which fits perfectly within the aesthetic and dramatic intent of the play. We specialize in Theatrical Stage Combat - nothing else. We don't do Renaissance Faires or shopping mall displays of our martial art. Our sole purpose is to take that very vague stage direction, "they draw swords and fight", and turn it into a visually exciting experience for the audience. We feel that our dedication to the three following elements make us your best source for combat:
This is our first and foremost credo! From the very first rehearsal, all focus is on inculcating safety techniques into the performers. Physical fitness and aerobic stamina are constantly stressed (fatigue leads to accidents). Before they even pick up a weapon, actors are drilled in footwork and balance techniques to prevent falls and possible injuries. Once weaponed training begins, they are trained in defensive maneuvers and must show their proficiency in these steps before they can begin to learn the attacks. The actual fight is choreographed in a step-by-step manner, notated as such, and rehearsed religiously until the moves are as natural as breathing.
Our equipment, too, is as safe as possible. All swords are constructed of high carbon weapon grade steel and specifically designed to be used under combat conditions. This "solidness" assures that the swords won't break and cause collateral injury. The tips are blunted and the edges dulled. A sharpened #2 pencil really poses a greater threat of injury than do any of our pieces.
This is, obviously, the most subjective element of any staged combat. What truly defines realism? Is it the historical accuracy of the weapons and fighting techniques? Is it the amount of blood shed on stage? Without waxing too philosophical, we believe anything that helps an educated audience to willingly suspend their disbelief adds to the realism of the fight - which adds to the realism of the production. To this end, most of our weapons are combat worthy replicas of actual period weapons. (Check the photos on this website against any historical reference of weaponry). Our fighting techniques, too, look historically accurate, though they are simpler, safer versions. We try to stick within the basic framework of historical accuracy - but are not pedantic slaves to it.
Our choreographers are directors, actors and designers as well. We are trained theatrical professionals - not competition fight masters. We understand the place of a fight within a play. We know how the fight must complement the natures of the characters engaged in combat - and how it should help to move the story line along. The fact that Romeo is inept, Iago a coward, Hotspur impulsive or that Cyrano likes to beat out the meter of his verse with his fencing footwork does not escape us! It is our intent to elucidate the nature of each character through the way in which he fights. To ensure that the director and designer's concepts are carried out, we love to be included as a part of the creative team as early as possible.
If you ask us to choreograph the fights in your production, the choreography fee and the weapons rental can be worked into one package deal. Variables such as type, size, scope, and length of the production make it necessary to have a consultation with the director and designers before a price can be quoted. Call us to arrange for a consult as soon as you have decided upon the production. Contact Tim Frawley with any questions.