Q: What are The Noble Blades?
A: The not-for-profit Noble Blades are the resident stage combat troupe of the Reston Community Players and the area’s premier professionally trained, community theatre-based fight group.
Q: What is the Society of American Fight Directors?
A: The SAFD is an internationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to promoting safety and fostering excellence in the art of stage combat.
Q: What is stage combat?
A: Stage combat is the art of theatrical violence, comic or dramatic, as performed by actors upon a stage.
Q: How is stage combat different from stunt work?
A: Stage combat is usually performed in front of a live audience. Unlike television and film, which often use stunt men and women for action scenes, stage actors must perform their own fights, performance after performance, in a safe and convincing manner.
Q: Is stage combat just sword fighting?
A: Certainly various types of swords (including the single handed broadsword, double handed broadsword, rapier, and small sword) are often used in stage combat, along with other historical weapons such as the quarterstaff, shield, hammer, axe, dagger, and knife. However, many modern theatrical works call for non-traditional weapons (often called “found objects”), such as a frying pan, wine bottle, umbrella, teddy bear, and even a rubber chicken!
Q: So all stage combat fights involve props?
A: No. In fact, the most common fights are “unarmed” where actors use their bodies to deliver or receive a punch, kick, slap, choke, etc.
Q: Does every play that has a fight, even if it is just a little one, need a fight director?
A: Yes! Often those moves that seem the easiest (such as one actor pushing another) hold the highest risk of injury. Whether the theatre group is at the professional, educational, or community level, every producer or director of a play that involves any type of physical violence should seek out a qualified fight director.
Q: When should a fight director be brought into the production process?
A: As early as possible. Ideally, the fight director should be part of original production staffing, so he or she can help shape aspects of the production, such as set and costumes, which may have a direct impact on the actors’ ability to perform. A fight director can also provide useful insight during the audition process, as well as throughout rehearsals. Moreover, even seemingly simple fights will often necessitate multiple rehearsals with the fight director, especially if the actors are relatively inexperienced, so sufficient time must be built into the production calendar.
Q: Is it ever too late to call a fight director?
A: Yes. Unfortunately, at a certain point, the demands on a fight director can be too large to handle in a short period of time. As stated above, please recruit a fight director at the earliest stages of a production and be ready to accommodate his or her rehearsal requests. Recent theatrical history is littered with examples of productions where the staff and actors pressed forward without any fight direction expertise. The results have ranged from a scene that simply failed to live up to expectation to actors being seriously injured.
Q: How can I learn more about stage combat?
A: Contact your SAFD regional representative to find out what classes are available locally, along with information regarding regional, national and international workshops.