The Fight to Write: Stage Combat and Conflict
A few years ago I held a writers' workshop based on stage combat (this was pre-HEMA and definitely safer than HEMA).
The goal of the workshop was to help writers FEEL the conflict and the adrenaline that even choreography can create and then transfer that feeling into their stories.
I had done a similar lesson with my Brit Lit seniors, so I wanted to see what would happen when adults did the process.
I also fully believe that action inspires creativity, so I wanted to give the writers the experience of going from movement to writing in a structured setting.
Step 1: Intro Stage Combat
In this step we went over the purpose and basics of stage combat with short sword: movement, energy direction, protecting your partner, and cuts/guards.
After the basics, I gave the attendees time to create a five move choreography: something simple, repeatable, and ending with a clear winner.
Step 2: Layer in the Conflict
Once they had established a choreography, we layered in various conflict scenarios to act while fighting: One aggressive; the other unwilling to fight. One set on revenge; the other on justice. One a peasant; one a mighty warrior. One playing around; the other serious.
This gave the actors a sense of how timing and movement would go depending on the character and objectives involved in the scene.
Step 3: Research a Historical Conflict and Write
This is where I overreached in terms of time: I should have had the attendees come up with their own conflict entirely, but I was attempting to give them a historical scenario.
I had the pairs look up conflicts from the Medieval Era on which to base their short script.
Once they were settled on time frame and characters, they wrote
a 2-3 line exchange to begin the battle, a few lines to intersperse in the fight scene, and a closing line (if needed).
I gave them time to refine and practice, and then they performed on the venue's stage with music and lights.
The results were amazing!
Soon after I got involved in HEMA and then Covid, so I didn't follow up on this class, but I want to return to offering this particular workshop with tweaks.
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