Apply yourself

Of the many applications I’ve fired off in the last few months, there’s one I’ve been working towards more than any other… after fourteen years of formal study (and some efforts before that) in stage combat, I’ve applied for the Teacher Certification Workshop this Summer, with the intent of becoming a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors. For all the years of prep, there was still plenty to do last-minute, including four weapons renewals on Monday (they expire every three years, and applicants have to be current in all 8). I have now gotten recommended status in all but smallsword, something I still hope to remedy some day. I’ve no way of knowing for certain my odds of getting in- it is highly competitive, not held every year, and I’m not even sure who all is applying beyond a few of my stage combat friends – who I hope will be my classmates there.

Richard Ryan is one of the scheduled teachers this year, and I hope he can make it- apparently he’s had to back out in the past due to job offers. Can’t say I blame him, looking at some of the jobs he’s had recently. I’ve enjoyed immensely the chances I had to assist him at last year’s Virginia Beach Bash workshop and to take classes with him at the Advanced Combat Intensive in Chicago earlier this month. His distinction between a nice partner and a good partner is one I now bring up regularly in both acting and stage combat classes.

I’ve also had my article on the Battle Cry accepted for the next issue of The Fight Master, the SAFD journal. I posted the video for that project last Fall, when doing it as a project for a graduate vocal extremes class. Unfortunately I didn’t go to the bother of getting full rights and credits in that video, so it won’t be appearing as a link in the article- but it’s linked from this blog, and I think it adds something the written word just can’t provide.

In other news, I’ve had plenty else to keep me busy. I appear briefly in Henley St. Theatre’s Lord of the Flies, for which I’ve had to return to a close-cropped and shaved persona (the Naval officer). Several of my students are in this production as well – but I do wish to make clear that I did not have anything to do with movement or fights on this one (the director felt no fight choreographer or movement person was needed, a decision I still question every time I see a dozen young boys with pointy bamboo poles on a small raked stage right next to the audience). I’m there as an actor only, which is actually refreshing. It’s been an interesting experience being in a cast of boys ranging from a third my age up to one of my undergraduate students in his 20s, seeing their various takes on acting, and performance, and life. The director is also a VCU instructor and recent graduate, Josh Chenard, so the connections are many – and yet I saunter in during intermission, have my minute or two on stage, and then leave, making it an oddly disconnected experience as well. The run is young though, with many shows to come – a month of both evening shows and multiple matinees most weeks. Today was a Jr. High matinee, which seemed to go well. I’ve never been quite sure of the wisdom of having so many young students read this novel in grade school, but they seemed to enjoy the show.

I am also Fight Directing Richmond Shakespeare’s production of Macbeth, which opens in a week. Very challenging staging on that one, but also some very talented physical actors as Macbeth and Macduff, so I’m excited to see it move on to the actual space. The final fight will be epic if we can pull it off amongst the narrow strip of stage and multiple platforms involved.

I’ll also be stopping by tomorrow (in between fight call for Macbeth and performance in Lord of the Flies) to do a little tweaking of a bit of violence in the upcoming VCU Mainstage production of The Elephant Man, a show I’m looking forward to seeing (although I’ll probably have to sneak in to a rehearsal on Lord of the Flies‘ off-night). The star was one of my actors in last Fall’s The Clink, as well as playing one of the leads in last Fall’s VCU mainstage production of Shakespeare’s R&J (which I did fights for). He’s always been a pleasure to work with, that Austin Seay, and there’s some other great talent on that stage as well.

Come to think of it, I never posted much about The Clink, being too busy at the time. Here’s a quick slideshow I put together from stills of the show, included now in my portfolio for some of the job applications:

The Semester at VCU is now in full swing, and teaching goes well. This Friday, besides hosting two more performances of Lord of the Flies and probably a fight rehearsal for Macbeth, is my birthday. My third Year of the Dragon on this earth. I can only hope it brings with it not just degrees and certifications, but gainful employment doing what I love.

No, that’s a lie, there’s a lot more than hoping I can do; I can work my ass off for it. On that note, I’ll stop blogging, and return to the fray. As always, have fun, play safe, and look good doing it.

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