DRAMA 101, INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE, MODULE 1 – Fight Director


[NOISE]. Down I go.
[NOISE]>>Ouch.>>[LAUGH] So that’s how it works. Hi.
I’m Rick Sordelet, and I’m a fight director.
[MUSIC]. Eleanor Duza said, I am merely the, the
vessel to the muse, and I’ve embraced that.
The fights that I created in my head in the vacuum of my self, serve no purpose.
They were a template that gave us something to start with, but it pales in
comparison to walking in the door, listening, listening to the director,
listening to the actors, finding out what they think their limitations are, and
then starting to put together the fight. If I listen carefully, everybody tells me
everything I need in order to put the fight together.
The first thing I’ll ask the director, tell me your story.
The most important part of choregraphy really is in the text, and from the text
comes the action. Playwright writes a storyline, and in
this case Tracy Letz has a, okay, we have this story, and the story is about this
man. This man happens to be 60 years old, and
for the first time in his life he is going to fight for something that
matters. And that you know, that was the challenge
you know, to try and create a fight that didn’t look like a fight.
That looked like a man in his 60’s who’s fighting a man in his 50’s, and that
there was resolve, because it was the fight of his life.
The, the operative word is illusion and, when we throw a punch you know, we’re
throwing a punch in such a way that the audience will decode the information.
Their eye takes in every image, and then they have to translate it so that their
brain understands what the image is. In the process of that translation, we
can hide things. I’m going to hit Mike, and as I hit Mike
he’s going to turn, and it’s going to look like I hit him.
What you’re going to see right now is that there’s air between my fist and his
face. So when I throw the punch, pow!
That’s what we don’t want the audience to see.
What we want them to see is the illusion that I hit him in the face.
[NOISE]>>Uhh.>>I can hit him and give him a backhand.>>Uhh. [NOISE] Uhh.
[NOISE]>>The sounds we have to do on stage. There’s no post-production for theater.
Watch this hand. This hand actually makes the
contact[NOISE] right here on the chest. In truth all of it’s acting.
When I use the word schmacting, it’s that sort of um,[NOISE] kind of thing.
[SOUND] There it is. Now if I put a little juice to it and we
both do some schmacting, it looks a little something like this.
Son of a[NOISE]. Film is one little camera.
It’s a one eyed legally blind entity, that’s what it is.
Bam. In theater you’ve got all those people
and all those people have two eyes[LAUGH], and they all have a computer
attached to those two eyes. And so your job becomes one that you have
to, to design the fight in such a way that, that every eye is fooled into
thinking that there’s a real fight going on.
And we can’t have a stunt double jump in[LAUGH] in the end of the play.
We’ve just invested 2 and 1/2 hours of our life with this guy and we love him
and we want to see him go through the rest of his journey.
And so you have usually three weeks to teach this guy how to sword fight in such
a way that it’s believable. The thing about The Royal Family that was
so much fun is that, the, the character that Reg Rodgers plays is sort of this
Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, devil may care, heartthrob of the day, kind of guy.
He just has that zest for life. And another man who’s a good fighter and
an athlete, just defending himself from this guy.
And that was what we tried to do. So the sword fighting itself is not
complicated. It’s not very complicated like I would do
for a Hamlet or a Romeo and Juliet. It’s actually just a great deal of fun,
but, but, but it’s done with such gusto and vigor that the audience is left with,
you know, a real sense of this guy and the situation.
But like that whoa, last minute kind of thing.
The reason that we have a fight call for every show is for the actors’ safety.
The number one rule in, in my list of 10 is safety.
Safety first. Safety first.
Safety first. If it’s not safe and we can’t do it a
thousand times out of a thousand, we can’t do it, and there’s no disputing
this. This is what we were talking about
earlier when we were talking about a fight call.
This gives the actors an opportunity to come in, drop all the pedestrian from the
day to day, and just focus on what they will be doing later that night when they
do the fight. [NOISE] And what the fight call does is
it brings us back to the theatrical reality.
Now I walk through the fight with my partner.
And I can put my focus physically onto what I’m going to be doing later that
night so that, when I get to that fight, my body has experienced it already, and
it just steps into place very nicely and organically.
By the time we get to performance, the real trick for a fight director is to
have the fight scene be so immersed into the arc of the scene, there’s no
separation. It’s not like oh, I went to see the play
last night, and the fight scene was great.
I don’t want to hear that. I want to hear the play was great and
there was a fight in it. It was just the work, and that is an
example of what I like best about doing fights for theater, is that you just
don’t know where the fight scene begins and you don’t know where else its just
part of the story. [MUSIC].

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