Sunday, July 01, 2012
This is not an image of stage combat -- it is a scene being rehearsed between Mercutio (played by Garth Laughton in our production) and Romeo (Charlie Jones).
Most of my work on this show consists of stage combat: choreographed battles in which I wield rapier and dagger. This is, for me as an actor, a highly unusual assignment. I'm a language guy, good with verbiage and verse and physical comedy. As I advance into my fourth decade in this body, I find myself getting cast more as tough guy types -- and, in this case, I have very little verse or even prose to work with. The role of Tybalt is more physical than verbal. Generally, when I'm on stage, I say little -- and in all but one case, I am there to fight: picking a fight with Benvolio early in the play, pursuing Romeo, goaded into battle with Mercutio, and then killed by Romeo.
So most of my work in rehearsal is to fight. I participate in three fights, and spend most of my time in rehearsal practicing them with Charlie, Garth, and two actors who are both named Elia.
The fights are pivotal moments in the story, and change the lives of the characters participating in them. We treat them, therefore, very much like scenes in and of themselves, and rehearse them in character. It is an interesting process and, although we take all precautions available to us, there is an element of danger when we practice at full speed. The responsibility is on us to maintain eye contact and stay in touch with our fellow actors, to take the welfare of our fellow players in hand, to stay awake and pay attention to what we are doing together.
This is our job even when stage weapons are not involved.