Mixed genres in non-fiction

First things first: The book is now available for pre-order: http://www.focalpress.com/books/details/9780415733984/

It’s a bit cheaper on Amazon and Barnes & Noble than on the publisher website, and the marketing department apparently decided it would move at a higher price than we’d originally talked about (I’ve been trying to keep price down with things like B&W illustrations only, for example), but it’s still I think priced fair comparable to other stage combat texts.

Now to the other theatrical firearms and weapons use… in real life.

For those who haven’t been following the news, there’s a conflict going on in the Ukraine that feels like something out of the Taymor film Titus, or one of the many mixed-era Shakespeare stagings that many of us have worked on, and it may be increasingly the new face of civil conflict in our age of increased centralization of wealth.

Just look at some of these images:


(AFP image)

Yes, that’s a trebuchet.

They are using other siege designs as well, including a slingshot shooting the modern version of Greek Fire:

…just like every medieval siege scene shot in the past two decades, it seems. Note the home-made plywood shield that walks by in that one too.





There’s plenty of footage of riot police with shields doing a shield push, making a testudo, and other familiar formations, while protesters improvise shields out of tables and other scrap, and attack with a mix of clubs, rocks, improvised flame weapons, etc. If police ever get the order to open fire it’ll be a bloodbath quickly, and don’t think for a second they couldn’t (physically – not sure about emotionally, politically, and almost certainly not ethically although some of them do get put in clear danger). So far they’ve been sticking to less-lethal munitions and melee weapons:

A bit of a summary of the conflict here, with more compelling images.

In the meantime, the government (with necessary corporate assistance) is tracking, digitally flagging, and contacting everyone in the protest zone who has a cellphone. Technology works both ways – I’m sure some of these events were partially organized through social media, and they’re certainly being documented heavily through consumer electronics, but as long as the systems they run on are cooperating with or under the legal sway of the governments, some of that is subject to change at a moment’s notice.


Many of us in stage combat or film stunts have been called upon to stage conflicts that made sense to both modern technology and period language and sensibilities, or for dystopian future visions of society that could blend the medieval and the modern, and in the past it’s been an exercise in creative problem-solving. I think that’s about to change, just as the truth we see now cannot help but be viewed through our theatrical lenses, be they tinted by

the barricades of Les Mis,


“Let others riiiiiiiiiise to take our plaaaace…”

…or 300


This is where we will make our stand…

…or the opening sequence of Gladiator,


“People should know when they’re beaten, Maximus.” “Would you? Would I?”

…or WWZ,


…or 1984.

Sometimes life imitates art, and that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes I hate it when I get things right.

News.com.au has a good gallery of images and is the source of most of those above: Here.

Edits to add:

Apparently there’s some straight-up SCA or re-enactor armor being fielded as well.

More on the weaponry being improvised, including these medieval images:

FreeCompany ArcherMore crazy images Here, and yes, the protesters do have some firearms as well. It’s just going to keep escalating, apparently.




  1. Posted January 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    And to further the Ukraine’s bid for “Most photogenic conflict ever” protester are also using fireworks as weapons:


  2. Posted January 24, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Escalation continues: http://merera.livejournal.com/295325.html

  3. Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    It was a very specific and unusual set of circumstances that held this exact level of force for a while. So easy to escalate on either side – drive a truck into the police wall, or shoot the protesters. It was inevitable that it did eventually cross that line. For those with strong stomachs who might otherwise think shields like that (not ballistic shields) remain relevant once the force level escalates, I give you this. Warning, people are shot and killed. http://youtu.be/Oo9LiRiO1eY

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