A very wise professor once went around and asked people for advice about filming. He bumped into a technician that told him the most important he should buy that would make his filming more professional is a good microphone. A very good microphone makes clear sounds that trick people into thinking that the quality of the video is good an a bad audio makes people think that the quality of the video is also bad. In the theatre world though, the fight choreography is the microphone.
This is one aspect of actor training that people often take for granted. Back in the classical days, every actor was trained in horseback riding, sword fighting, and the likes. Nowadays, film actors already have stunt doubles and stage actors are rarely called to perform the acts that the stunt doubles execute. Although stage combat is an essential skill, it is something that often disturbs the flow of a play.
She Kills Monsters
There is a really good show called She Kills Monsters wherein unfortunate stage combat occurred. Even though the plot and the acting were pretty captivating, when an action scene comes up which was quite often, the audience is taken out of the action. It is hard to be impressed with the protagonists because their attackers seem to be always waiting for them to attack. The good thing is that there was a fight staged with a dragon which was wilfully executed by the actors dressed as the different body parts of the dragon.
Falling Short in Stage Fights
The danger though is that a stage fight might fall short. There are times that a confrontation is so slowed down and non-threatening that it becomes obviously false. On the other hand, it can also seem too real. A real fight is usually messy and people get hurt. As much as people are disappointed and hurt during the first stage fights, all are equally confused and frightened during the second one.
Guns on Stage
A gun that looks so real on stage is very distracting to the audience. People think about their safety and the actors that make them certainly not giving attention to the play itself. Which is why a gun used for prop should never be pointed at a person or an animal. Stage managers should at all times be in control of the situation. The important thing is that the audience should not worry about their safety.
The audience’s trust is broken if a fight gets too real that it becomes uncomfortable so make sure that the fight looks real enough.
Every fight scene is run in whole before a performance with the actual stage fight. A “fight choreographer” is assigned to narrow the scenes down to just the essential details so they are executed without posing any danger to the actors of the audience. They have the job of deciding a slap scene between actors either by really doing it or just by tapping a part of an actor’s body.
The fight choreography is just one of the many behind-the-scenes roles in the theatre industry. If we live in a perfect world, actors and directors would know stage combat, but the reality is that the audience is let down by these part of the performances. Just like a good microphone, doing your best in finding a very good fight choreographer can overall improve the quality of the play.