Play fighting: On stage fight choreography In this new blog…

Play fighting: On stage fight choreography 

In this new blog series Fight Director Yarit Dor will reveal how she works with actors to make fight scenes look realistic, whilst keeping everyone safe.

Hi, I’m Yarit and I’m part of the Globe Ensemble (performing Hamlet and As You Like It) as Fight Director. I wanted to share some of my process on Hamlet and As You Like It this season.

With the Globe Ensemble our mutual aim was to discover EVERYTHING in the rehearsal room. The actors inspire the work and decisions can be made as a collective therefore I decided to be there everyday rather than only coming in for fight sessions. That allowed me to be present in the full development and to be there when the actors explore scenes that have or might have violent interactions. Similar to Ellan (designer) who sketched in their notebook, I started to write down things that I saw: any physical impulses that they had, spatial pathways they were naturally using, games; props they were taking from the pile etc. That taught me a lot about how they view their character’s journey in that scene and why they need to use violence.

I snuck away at different points during the day and went into an empty room where I started brainstorming ideas on huge Post-It notes.

Hamlet’s fight brainstorming

Michelle, Bettrys, Ellan and I had a session of brainstorming where we chatted about the graveyard scene and the last fencing scene. We all wrote some words on a big Post-It and discussed the storytelling behind the action.  
Since the rehearsals were done in the order of the play, we would get to the fencing scene much later so it was essential for me to start teaching them a choreography that leaves space for the actresses to explore events, emotions and intent. Hearing them speak and analyse their character’s journey gave a direction for the action. Then after the rehearsal day I’d meet my Assistant, share thoughts with him and start to tailor moves.

As You Like It fight brainstorming

Our fight sessions happened much later in the process. Since the two main fights in the play are right in the first Act, I had a chance to see them playing with those scenes a couple of times. Also by the time we had our first fight session we’ve already worked through most of the play so I knew what kind of movement language overall was beginning to form itself – puppetry, animal work etc.  Therefore when Richard, Bettrys and I had our brainstorming session we all knew what style of language is required. In that session Richard came up with the ending and then we constructed it from end to start in theory and agreed on the storytelling of the fight. With Shubham and Bettrys we played some physical games and they shared stories of how they used to fight with their siblings so we used some of those concepts in the Orlando verses Oliver fight.

Words: Yarit Dor