How to Do Battle Onstage

by on June 9, 2015

   Ever been watching actors do battle (literally) in a scene and think, that looks so real!? While keeping in mind that your favorite Hollywood muse hasn’t actually been stabbed through the chest with a sword, there is a lot of training and preparation before a faux weapon is put in the hands of the fighters. From many different viewpoints in the audience, there are a slew of details and precautions to ensure that those participating can make the scene believable.

   The audience viewpoint is really one of the big aspects of the fighting. As if witness to a real incident of violence, each audience member will be sure to give a different account, depending on where they’re sitting. This is part of the illusion of stage fighting: “shadow fighters” on the outside of the actual focal scene add a bit of fluff to give the impression of a true war scene.

   With tactics like military drills and training in “5 Soldiers,” following recruits during a stay in Afghanistan in 2006, onstage fighters learn discipline and gain muscle memory through rigorous training. These dancers and actors put their muscles to the grind and their noses in the books, often reading up on old fighting techniques and vocabulary from the era of fighting they’re in. From Shakespeare to Roman troops, performers turned fighters transform into well-trained machines for the stage.