Stage Combat Workshop Being Taught at WIU
June 24, 2014
MACOMB, IL – While the weapon battles on the theatre stage sometimes appear very realistic, there is a great deal of education and planning that go into choreographing an intricate fight scene.
A training workshop for aspiring instructors of theatrical stage combat is being held at Western Illinois University through June 27, drawing educators from across the country.
Western Illinois University theatre and stage combat Professor D.C. Wright is partnering with Dueling Arts International Master Teacher Gregory Hoffman, of Los Angeles, CA, to teach the two-week class on the Macomb campus. Students meet in Simpkins Hall each day to learn more about teaching safe and believable techniques involving a variety of weapon styles. Hoffman and Wright have worked together since 1994.
"This is different from most workshops because we're not training actors," said Wright. "We are training people who wish to become strong stage combat teachers."
According to Hoffman, this type of combat class is typically taught just once each year or every other year. The pair invited the seven students in this summer's program to Macomb because they had progressed far enough into their teaching methods to move to a higher level, he added.
"This time we have a number of students who have been working with D.C. for a number of years and were ready to take the next step," Hoffman said. "These are students with a desire to teach, some within universities and some with theatre companies. They hope to make teaching stage combat more of their career."
One of those students, Christopher Elst, of Milwaukee, WI, teaches stage combat and fight direction and is also an actor.
"We all have our own ideas, but with Gregory and D.C. we learn specialized stage combat techniques and how to teach through effective methods, which is good for performance," Elst said.
In addition to teaching workshops like the one at WIU, Hoffman and Wright have worked together to make a series of training videos. A copy of the 16-disc set on theatrical sword fighting, "And They Fight," is available for check-out at the Leslie F. Malpass Library on WIU's Macomb campus.
Hoffman said WIU is fortunate to host the class that draws national talent and was chosen because it is Wright's home campus.
"The University allowed us to negotiate the use of this space in Simpkins Hall, and the University had a talented instructor already in this location," he said.
Hoffman is the founder and a master teacher of Dueling Arts International, LLC and is an adviser and guest instructor for the re-organized Dueling Arts International, NPO. He is also a founding and honorary member of The Nordic Stage Fight Society and was recognized as a fight director and teacher with The Society of American Fight Directors for 15 years.
He has completed his own independent film in 2006, "Upside Out," featuring Olympia Dukakis.
Wright, also a master instructor with Dueling Arts International, has spent 20 years as a teacher of stage combat as well as a fight director and stunt man. He has taught classes across the United States and is a certified teacher of stage combat with the Society of American Fight Directors and by Dueling Arts International.
He completed his Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre education in 2002, while he taught stage combat as a guest artist at Emerson College. He has also directed fight scenes for many performances at theatre festivals across the country and off-Broadway.
For more information on Western's theatre program, visit wiu.edu/theatre.