What is it like?

Stage & Steel is a welcoming, interesting and tight nit family. Actors work hard together and laugh even harder. The seriousness that is needed to learn safe stage combat practices is balanced with fun acting exercises intended to develop ones abilities in both character acting and improvisation. Here are a few commonly asked questions.

Combat or Non-Combat

So What is Stage Combat?

Is it hard?

So is there any real acting involved?

What are the costumes like?

 

Combat or Non-Combat

Roles are designated as a combat part or a non-combat part. Combat Roles explore different forms of fighting whether with weapons or hand-to-hand. These roles may vary from each show and have different levels of skills required. Non-combat roles are for actors who don’t want to fight or those who prefer to start in a non-combat role while learning stage combat in order to gain experience. Character descriptions on audition notices will state whether a role is combat or non-combat.

So What is Stage Combat?

There are many forms of combat that is performed on stages all across the world. Stage & Steel focuses primarily on Broad Sword with some work with Staff, Hand to Hand, Dagger and Shield. Half of the overall rehearsal time is spent on learning the principles of Broad Sword and working on mastering choreography. Safety is at the forefront of each and every lesson. Every actor is responsible for their own safety and for the safety of every person around them.

The principles of the Broad Sword are easy to pick up but mastery takes time. As an actor's abilities with weapons grow so does the provided choreography progress in the level of challenge. No actor is asked to do something that they do not feel comfortable doing. Each fight that is performed is tailored to the abilities of the participants

New members start at the beginning and work their way up. It takes a bit of practice and time to develop a good fighting style. One show is definitely not enough time to master the art form and many actors return to continue their training.

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Is it hard?

It is a workout. It does require a certain amount of dexterity. The first day of training most are just trying to get their right and left hands to work together. Next, is foot work, which is very important part of fighting. Many actors learn quickly just how many "left feet" they have and then try to work on reducing that number. The next important step is to train yourself to see what your fighting partner is doing. Self-awareness of the environment is important and can be taught. Then there’s acting happening and memorizing of choreography. The most important step is to breathe because it can be done and will be entertaining!!

New members start at the beginning and work their way through those areas one at a time. Games are played along the way to keep things light and fun. It is like any other sport or art form, it takes time to master.

Training Gallery

Check out the training gallery. Here you will find pictures of Stage & Steel hard at work.

 

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So is there any real acting involved?

More so than people realize. What an actor does with the sword is nothing compared to what they do with their body. Part of the safety factor is learning how to hit the blades to cause the right amount of noise with the least amount of force. The strength of the crushing blow must come from the acting rather than the arm. An actor learns to show fierceness to the audience but not to their partner.

Sometimes lines are spoken while fighting is happening. This takes practice and physical conditioning too. However, with each and every blow the actor must vocalize the action with a series of grunts and groans. This is a learned reaction that helps the performers to better communicate the spirit of the conflict.

In a two hour play there may only be twenty minutes of actual fighting. Any more would be very difficult for the actors to memorize. Fighting augments the story being presented and is in no way the principle character of the story. That leaves over one and a half hours of real characterization to tell the true story. Acting is very much involved.

Improvisation is also very much involved. Stage & Steel productions use a good deal of audience participation. This sometimes involves an actor having to choose an audience member to help them in a scene. The actor must be able to work with and react to audience members who may throw things that are unexpected and interesting.

Another time that improvisation and self control is needed is when an audience member calls something out. They are expected to cheer and boo the Knights which can lead to yelling, taunts, and over enthusiastic banner waving. That can become a distraction to the actors during the show but they can learn to roll with the interaction. Audience members often comment during the show which can lead to some very funny and enduring moments. Examples include when a little girl pleaded with Scrooge to "wake up" from his bad dream. Another time was when a jury member asked if a character was free Friday night. Also, when a little girl got into the face of the villain and cried out for the death penalty for his actions which shocked the actor and utterly embarrassed the girl’s mother. Actors begin to learn to react off of the audience and stay in character. These shows become memorable and special for everyone. Live theater, where anything can happen.

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What happens when you put an actor in a costume and then bring out a camera?

Check out the Actors Gallery to see proof that Stage & Steel members are zany and fun.

 

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What are the costumes like?

A lot of fun and perhaps that is why we get such crazy behind the scenes photos. A majority of the costumes that Stage & Steel use are hand made by members of the troupe. Each one becomes a work of art. Some parts of the costume are protective to ensure safety of our actors. Actors that fight wear a leather kidney belt for both safety and appearance. Even female characters that wear dresses and fight have a kidney belt worked into their costume. The costume does change things. Actors learn to get into costume as soon as possible during Tech Week to ensure that they get use to how the costume reacts to fast body movement. They are made interesting with layers of shirts, tabards, belts, bags, capes, sheaths, swords, daggers and so on.

Check out the Character Gallery for just some of the characters that have come to life on Stage & Steel stages.

 

 

Wow! After all that what are you waiting for? Check to see when the next audition is!

Auditions

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