Updates from a Published Author

…and no, I don’t just mean this blog. Or my articles in The Fight Master. Or my theses.

I am happy to announce that Focal Press will be publishing The Theatrical Firearms Handbook in 2014, filling a much-needed  void in the available training resources for fight choreographers, stage managers, amateur gun wranglers, and others who are tasked with choosing, using, or managing prop firearms for theatre or independent film. It’s been a crazy headfirst dive into authorship; the original idea came after the first of my on-campus interviews mid-March, as discussed in last month’s overdue update. The chair asked me what plans I had for professional development, publication, etc. and at the time I just had a set list of articles I’ve been meaning (and still mean) to write, and the book chapter that’s perhaps/slowly in the works on Physical Dramaturgy, in collaboration with some of my peers at the Association for Theatre Movement Educators (we meet next in less than a month, at ATHE). It got me thinking though; what does the field need that I could contribute? The answer I quickly arrived at, which I’m still shocked hasn’t already been done, is something on theatrical firearms. The market has a number of titles on theatrical swordplay, yet only the occasional chapter or paragraph on theatrical firearms, despite that being the most rapidly growing area in our field. So four months later, I have a draft of a book, and a contract for its release next year. Not bad!

By next Summer, hopefully in time for the SAFD Nationals (which I’m missing now) and ATHE, we’ll have our first book on the subject. My current almost-complete draft stands at about 420 pages in Word, with a few additions remaining in the legal section, some of the appendices, and illustrations. The final printed book will be 320 pages or less, which gives me a good challenge as I go back and surgically cut it. I have general approval from the College of William & Mary (where I’ll now be teaching three sections of beginning acting in the Fall Semester) to use their space and students, and interest from their Stage Combat club students in helping to stage setups for me. I have full confidence that I’ll be able to deliver a quality product within schedule (Final draft to them by November).

On a somewhat related note, I also started a Wiki a while back on blank gun issues, which I’m hoping more folks will contribute to. It can be found at http://fightdesigner.wikidot.com and anyone who’s had failures or persistent issues with any blank firing prop is welcome to add to it. I’m also taking book contributions from anyone who has good pictures of theatrical firearms in action, at least if they happen to illustrate something I’m discussing. Send me an email or leave a comment if you have something you’d like to see in print, either from your theatre or indie film production or from workshops/classes.

In the meantime… I’ve been keeping busy with youth theatre camp guest spots in mask and stage combat with SPARC, neutral mask intensive training with Dody DiSanto, acting in SPARC’s New Voices series, several auditions (still waiting to hear back on some), a little fight coordination, action, and gun wrangling for VCU Cinema’s summer projects, and more. Richmond Shakespeare‘s Comedy of Errors, for which I did fight choreography/coaching, recently closed after unanimously rave reviews, all of which highlighted the slapstick physical comedy (although interestingly when it’s comedy nobody thinks to cite the fight choreographer). Outdoor theatre means lots of rust, so I’ve had some quality time with a few rapiers since I got them back from their Agecroft Hall location, swapped out with several more for their upcoming production of Othello.

Next week I’ll be back up in DC with an impressive roster of VCU graduate alumni, working with David Leong at Arena Stage in a pre-production workshop for Mother Courage. Looking forward to seeing former classmates (like Penny Ayn Maas, who I co-taught with for a year and has been teaching full-time in Texas since then) as well as others I know through stage combat or only through reputation and word-of-mouth.

Tomorrow I’ll be working a 48hr film fest project, which will give me a chance to test out some props I purchased earlier this year as well as make contacts with a local SWAT team.

Interesting times, indeed!


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