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Violence Design Lab Podcast

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#33 Portraying Honorable vs Dishonorable Characters

“Noble” heroes…Dastardly “villains”… Today I examine the difference between honorable and dishonorable characters. What defines them? What are the rules that society uses to decide if a fight is “fair” or “honorable?” How do you implement that in your design? Listen in to find out… Contents: 3:27 What is Honor? 8:35 … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:32:03

#32 Style Seminar: Historical Drama

Historical Drama: doesn’t every Shakespeare play with fights fall into that category? Or everything set before 1980? What about Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings? Aren’t they in that style too? Let’s talk about this common–and commonly mischoreographed–style, and figure out what to include, what to steer clear of…and how to know when … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:30:03

#30 Portraying Trained vs. Untrained Characters

This week, we examine how to customize the way a character fights to match the level of weapon/fight training or martial experience appropriate to their background in the world of the play. That meek biochemist shouldn’t fight the same way that Rambo does, and you need to adapt your choreography to remain true to their … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:24:56

#30 Style Seminar: Hollywood Swashbuckling

This week’s episode is the first in a series on style: designing fights in particular ways to match a specific genre or to evoke a certain tone. Each iteration in the series will break down the specific elements that define the style and give you concrete, actionable ways to incorporate these elements into your choreography. … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:25:15

#29 Choreographing Fights Alone

This week on the podcast is something of a milestone: we’ve crossed the 5,000 download mark! Thanks to all of my loyal listeners around the world for your support and encouragement! Fittingly, this episode was inspired by listener mail. Alex wrote in about the challenge of choreographing fights alone. It can be difficult to imagine … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:23:54

#28 Training to Design

Unlike other theatrical design specialties such as lighting, sets, or costumes, violence design suffers from a lack of formal instruction and training available to those who would pursue a career in fight choreography. The potential designer often has little recourse other than to take the “sink or swim” approach in trying to transition from a … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:27:12

#27 Training Your Brain to Fight

We are used to training our bodies to do physical tasks like stage combat or sports, but have you ever considered how much your brain is working when you fight? This week’s episode examines how our brain’s processing capacity can be overwhelmed by all the information bombarding it during each moment of a fight, and … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:30:16

#26 Should All Actors Train in Stage Combat?

The first in a series about training actors to do stage combat. The first questions we need to address: SHOULD all actors train to perform violence? The answer is not as cut-and-dried as you might think, especially coming from a violence designer. In the episode, I discuss reasons FOR and AGAINST actors training in stage … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:24:55

#25 Working With Young Fighters

Many of us find ourselves designing theatrical violence for high school or middle school productions or teaching stage combat classes to theatre programs that focus on younger performers. Or perhaps the play you’re designing has a child involved in the violence. You may quickly discover that working with younger fighters can be a very different … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:25:48

#24 How to Nail (or Run) a Fight Callback

You’ve done your audition and gotten a callback! But the director tells you that not only will you be reading from the script to see how you work with specific characters, but that there will be a fight callback to assess your stage combat skills as well! What’s that going to be like? This week’s … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:37:08

#23 Three Ways to Make Your Fights Work

Today, let’s discuss the dramatic work that your fights should be doing. Fights do more than simply move the plot along. Fights should also: 1) reinforce the setting and underscore the tone, 2) reveal character 3) cast the future of the play into doubt. I also cover how to use you fights to reinforce the … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:25:38

#22 Book Review: Meditations on Violence

Today on episode #22 of the Violence Design Lab podcast, I’m discussing a book I think every violence designer and fight choreographer needs on their bookshelf: Meditations on Violence by Sergeant Rory Miller. I consider it a foundational work for those on our field, so I want to make sure you’re up to speed on … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:18:16

#21 Working With Older Fighters

Today I want to talk about something I never learned in a stage combat workshop or a college theatre class. In fact, it took over twenty years for me to really understand it. What is this mystery topic? Working with fighters who are middle-aged or older. Now that I’m a few months shy of 50, … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:20:32

#20 Managing a Weapons Inventory

Start designing fights for productions, and the need for weapons quickly arises. Where do those come from? The theatre? A rental house? From you? Today I talk with R&D Choreography founder Richard Gilbert about the ways a weapon inventory can benefit the working violence designer. We discuss some strategies for building up your stockpile, how … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:34:34

#19 Incorporating Story into Choreography

The topic for episode #19 of the Violence Design Lab podcast comes to us from a listener in the U.K. who wanted to know my approach to incorporating the story elements of a script into the fight choreography that I eventually give to the actors. It’s a great question, and it’s nice to focus in … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:20:59

#18 An Approach to Historical Stage Combat Training

This week I had the honor and privilege of chatting with Todd Campbell, Fight Master with Fight Directors Canada. He and I dove into some strategies on training actors to fight–not only in traditional stage combat but also in historical styles. He explains the tiered training system of the FDC, and … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:30:08

#17 Designing Melees, Part 2: Alarums and Excursions

In this episode, we’re covering the second half of our discussion on melees! Today we get down to brass tacks: what format are you using to tell this story, what are the two major styles of melees, what are feature fights and chaos moments, and how Twyla Tharp taught me to choreography battle scenes!

Duration: 00:26:39

#16 Designing Melees, Part 1: The 3 Throughlines

Today on episode #16 of the Violence Design Lab podcast, we’re talkin’ melees! That’s right: Group fights! Rumbles! Battles! How to define them, how to negotiate them with directors, and most of all, how the heck to design them! This is Part One of a two-part series.

Duration: 00:21:59

#15 Fight the True Fight (Not the Drill)

They say in theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there always is. In a competitive environment, you probably won’t see that obvious, single-intention attack like the treatise seems to show and you drilled so often. But if you’re paying attention to what the drill is really teaching you, after all … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:24:54

#14 Fight Inertia, or, Why Don’t We See Double Hits on Stage?

When I need a sound byte to convey my particular aesthetic of violence design, my default style if you will, I describe it as “personal, painful, desperate, and as real to an audience four feet away as it is at forty.” I often call it “Chicago Style,” because it developed during my 16 years of … Read More Read More

Duration: 00:23:40

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