Author: Brock Vickers

You Cannot Eclipse Ann Harding

On Monday, August 21st, the day of the total solar eclipse, The Turner Classics TV Network will dedicate an entire day and night to showing 15 of Ann Harding’s 40 movies, starting at 6 a.m. The eclipse, on that day, is “one star allowing another star to shine”.

Ann first appeared on the stage at the East Orange High School, in New Jersey, where she surprised the audience with her interpretation of the seductive spy, Theda Bara. She also spent a year attending Bryn Mawr College. Inspired by her time there and wanting to continue, she moved to New York where she met Jasper Deeter.

After attending a play by Provincetown Players (where Deeter was a leading actor/director), Ann discovered that the acting company was holding auditions for a part, and she decided to give it a try. Asked to come back the next evening and read for a larger part,  to her surprise, she won it. She subsequently received critical acclaim for her role in “Inheritors” (1921) and decided she would continue her budding career, that included a total of 72 plays on and off Broadway.

Deeter returned from New York to Rose Valley, bringing with him seven actors including Harding, blue cheesecloth, 16 light bulbs, some wood paneling, nine dollars, and the idea of an independent repertory theatre. Hedgerow Theatre was born.  

Harding perfected her craft at Hedgerow and attained national recognition; in addition to stage performances, she acted in 40 movies, 28 radio programs, and 44 TV programs, and has two stars on the Hollywood walk of fame, for film and TV. She was the 16th star to leave her footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, that now has more than 200 stars so honored. Ann was one of only a few stars to address their fans directly. In the cement she wrote, “Whatever Success I Have, You Make Possible”.

She was signed by Pathe Studios in 1929 and made her debut with Fredric March in “Paris Bound” (1929).  As she was trained before microphones were invented, she could project her voice beyond the 10th row. This ability was an asset in the introduction of the early “talkies”. Some silent stars could not make the transition because of their voice quality. She became a Hollywood leading lady and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in “Holiday” (1930). In “The Animal Kingdom” (1932) she was the gentle refined heroine, when she played Daisy, the rejected fiancée of Leslie Howard which came to be her “type”. She also starred with leading men Basil Rathbone, Ronald Coleman, William Powell, Herbert Marshall, Robert Young, Richard Dix, and Gary Cooper in a wide variety of movies.

She quit films in 1937 when she married conductor Werner Janssen, but she could not stay away, and came back five years later in “Eyes in the Night” (1942) with Gale Storm and Edward Arnold. For the next five years she played mature character roles. Another break, another 3 films and then in 1956, she appeared once again with Fredric March, the man with whom she started her career in “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” (1956). She continued to appear sporadically on TV in the 1960s and died at age 80 in 1981.

Throughout her career she would make return appearances to Hedgerow, where she even provided the funds for the actor residence now known as Hedgerow theatre school and house.

More information: Ann Harding Bio

 

Looking for A Family Treat?

It’s summer time and the kids are bored. Want something more exciting than a Netflix documentary? Need something everyone can laugh at?

Hop aboard Phileas Fogg’s hot-air balloon as Hedgerow Theatre Company’s small troupe of actors take on a global collection of carnival characters in Mark Brown’s imaginative and theatrical re-imagining of Jules Verne’s 1873 adventure, Around the World in 80 Days, running July 6 to August 13. All the world’s a stage, literally, in this theatrical tour-de-force.

Hedgerow Theatre Company has found a way to make you feel like a world traveler without ever leaving Delaware County. Hedgerow’s lively production of Around the World in 80 Days, Mark Brown’s adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, uses five actors and some deft staging to convey the humor and adventure of this timeless tale.” – DCMetroTheatreArts.com

The intrepid adventurer Phileas Fogg with his loyal valet, Passepartout, agrees to an outrageous wager that puts his life and fortune at risk, as he embarks on a grand journey from Victorian London through Asia and across the Pacific in precisely 80 days.

“Playwright Mark Brown adapted this version from Jules Verne’s novel in 2001, and like some other stage adaptations of well-known books or films, the show is both a spoof and a celebration of the original. Its success depends greatly on the inventiveness of a five-member cast…” Newsworks.org

Stampeding elephants, raging typhoons, runaway trains, and unabashed slapstick fill this farcical adventure from start to finish. Hedgerow Theatre tackles the challenge of Verne’s epic adventure with its talented cast in its beautiful rustic setting and brings the joy and humour of Brown’s adaptation to life.

“The adventure is full of funny antics and dialog with many memorable characters. Hedgerow’s small cast is more than up to the challenge of providing laughs and high energy action.” -DelcoCultureVultures.com

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

Mark Swift: A Student of Comedy

“I like to think that I have been unofficially studying comedy all my life,” says Mark Swift one of the nimble actors of Mark Brown’s tour-de-force adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.  “I am of the opinion that there’s no greater gift to give someone than laughter, and that really helps around the holidays because I have a big family.”

From a technical standpoint, Swift likes to throw himself at the wall until someone laughs, and then, he says, it sticks. As he puts it, his favorite part of the show is, “mak[ing] an absolute ass of [him]self and no one ask[ing] [him] to leave the premises.” For Around the World in 80 Days, running now until August 13, that was exactly the type of comedy Producing Artistic Director, Jared Reed (who plays Phileas Fogg) and Director Damon Bonetti were looking for in an actor.

“Damon is a dream to work with. He has a clear vision and knows the mathematics behind physical comedy to an absolute ‘T’. In my opinion, what I believe is more important in what Damon brings to a project is his willingness to let the actors invent and play with the material. Unless of course it’s terrible, then he’ll tell you it’s terrible (and that’s a great thing).”

This is the third time Bonetti and Swift have worked together, having previously explored No Sex Please, We’re British and Boeing Boeing. For Around the World in 80 Days, however, the script called for a new type of comedy.

“I think at its heart, the comedy of 80 Days comes from the sheer number of characters being played by a total of five actors. Of course, it helps that the jokes are well written, but when you add in the fact that the joke is being told by a character, played by an actor who was just wearing a totally different costume- it becomes a joke in and of itself.”

All the world’s a stage, literally, in this theatrical retelling of Verne’s classic, as Hedgerow Theatre Company’s small troupe of actors take on a global collection of carnival characters. Stampeding elephants, raging typhoons, runaway trains, and unabashed slapstick fill this farcical adventure from start to finish.

“Comedy is the best way to be open and honest. If you do comedy correctly, you can convey a potentially controversial opinion in a way that your audience will be more willing to accept it,” says Swift. “I find humor in most things, but to me, the funniest jokes are those you have to really look for. When a joke is hidden within the background to success that tells me that every aspect of joke telling has been put into play: The writers intended the joke, the director picked up on it, and the actors executed it. To me that’s the ultimate way to tell a joke.”

Swift is no stranger to this style of comedy, appearing in most of the Hedgerow comedies over the last two years as a Fellow. He has been seen in The Servant of Two Masters and Dracula, but most recently appeared in The Prisoner of Zenda and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, two shows that tested his versatility as an actor.

“Including 80 Days, all three shows had me playing several characters, and including me crossdressing in each (spoilers). It has been a challenge to keep my characters in 80 Days fresh and unique from what audiences may have seen as of recently.”

But Swift is not the only familiar face to return to Hedgerow for Around the World in 80 Days. Long time company member Zoran Kovcic (Boeing Boeing and No Sex Please, We’re British) joins Hanna Gaffney (Boeing Boeing) and Sarah Knittel (The Servant of Two Masters) to create a world of characters.

“In dramatic comedy, in most cases, you have an ensemble to back you up. Dramatic comedy is a team sport, in stand-up- most of the time- you are on your own. All of the challenges of comedy are present in both, although I am certain that audiences are less likely to heckle a group of performers rather than one individual.”

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.

Shows are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. There will be a Wednesday matinee on August 2, at 2 p.m., and Fogg’s adventure concludes on Sunday, August 13, at 2 p.m.

For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

Finding the Jeu of Jules Verne

When asked how you play multiple colorful characters in the upcoming Summer Farce Around the World in 80 Days actor Sarah Knittel said, “Find the jeu.”

Knittel is a graduate of the Pig Iron School of Physical and Devised Theater and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.  She appeared in last summer’s The Servant of Two Masters (Smeraldina), and has worked with Automatic Arts, Hella Fresh, Untitled Eva Steinmetz Project, Pig Iron, Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, and Philadelphia Shakespeare. She is the 2017 Automatic Arts Artist in Residence and is creator of  The Joseph Davenport Experience cabaret.  

“Jeu,” the French word for game, is a derivative of the Jacques Lecoq method of acting and is a core principal of Pig Iron’s training program. The idea is to always search for the play in a moment, to make the most of whatever material is available, theatrically, and bringing it to life in the moment, and in Jules Verne’s epic adventure, play is certainly a key component.

I’m drawn to these comedies because they are so technical. If your timing is off or  you’re not present, you might not get the laugh. That sweet sweet laughter. I love the challenge. Physical comedy transcends language and age…. But mostly for that sweet laughter,” said Knittel.

Stampeding elephants, raging typhoons, runaway trains, and unabashed slapstick fill Around the World in 80 Days from start to finish. Hedgerow Theatre tackles the challenge of Jules Verne’s epic adventure with its talented cast in its beautiful rustic setting and brings the joy and humour of Mark Brown’s adaptation to life.

Every role is different. Passepartout is such a clown it made the most sense to start with his physical rhythms and posture.”

Around the World in 80 Days returns familiar funny faces and puts them in an exciting, and incredibly silly, rollercoaster spectacle.  Danger, romance and comic surprises abound as five actors – portraying 42 characters – traverse four continents in this race against the clock. Zoran Kovcic (Boeing Boeing and No Sex Please, We’re British), Mark Swift (Boeing Beoing and No Sex Please, We’re British), Hanna Gaffney (Boeing Boeing), and Knittel take on the mountainous task of creating a world of characters.

“Hanna Gaffney is bringing so much heart and elegance to her performance of Aioda. Mark Swift is so funny that I want to kill him and wear his skin.  Jared Reed and Zoren are class acts…. especially Jared’s baby blues. Damon Bonetti is fine.”

Opening night is Friday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Wednesday matinee on August 2, at 2 p.m., and Fogg’s balloon lands for a final time on Sunday, August 13, at 2 p.m.

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

Hanna Gaffney Could Use a Good Laugh

“Traveling and sewing are good sources of meditation,” says actor Hanna Gaffney, who returns to Hedgerow Theatre Company this summer for Around the World in 80 Days. “I love to travel when I can. I am also a seamstress, so finding sewing projects is a good source of meditation. I also can hardly sleep at night because I’m so excited to decorate my room. That’s sort of lame, but you want answers, you got ‘em.”

Gaffney, who made her first appearance at Hedgerow last summer as Gabriella in Boeing Boeing,  plays Aouda and many others in the upcoming comedy. She is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and her most recent Philadelphia credits include Witness for the Prosecution (Dr. Wyatt) at Bristol Riverside Theatre and Spamalot (The Lady of the Lake) at Resident Theatre Company.

This summer, Mark Brown’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure Around the World in 80 Days pits the intrepid adventurer Phileas Fogg, played by Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, with his loyal valet, Passepartout, against time as they embark on a grand journey from Victorian London through Asia and across the Pacific in precisely 80 days.

“I love to play in the clowning world, and though not all of my characters live there, I’m excited to work to give specific life to each of them. I also really enjoy doing research on the productions I’m involved in, and learning more about each culture we fly through in 80 Days is going to be so fascinating,” said Gaffney.

Around the World in 80 Days returns familiar funny faces and puts them in an exciting, and incredibly silly, rollercoaster spectacle.  Danger, romance and comic surprises abound as five actors—portraying 42 characters—traverse four continents in this race against the clock.

“I love how much this show encompasses,” said Gaffney. “Besides, for all of the many countries and cultures, it also blends a fantastic and bombastic world with a still and heartfelt one. Plus I rarely get to play a romantic lead, and I’m very excited for the challenge.”

All the world’s a stage, literally, in this theatrical tour-de-force as Gaffney and company turn adventure and romance into a fun-filled evening of farce and slapstick.

We live in a world where any bit of comedy and heart we can sit and ruminate on for a while is something worth watching. We need to escape the current climate so we don’t fall into normality. Our bodies will adjust to that normality, and we may forget we can fight for what is right. We need these breaks of hilarity and entertainment.”

The first preview performance of Around the World in 80 Days is Wednesday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Friday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Wednesday matinee on August 2, at 2 p.m., and Fogg’s balloon lands for a final time on Sunday, August 13, at 2 p.m.

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

 

Hedgerow Theatre’s Summer Comedy: Around the World in 80 Days

Hop aboard Phileas Fogg’s hot-air balloon as Hedgerow Theatre Company’s small troupe of actors take on a global collection of carnival characters in Mark Brown’s imaginative and theatrical re-imagining of Jules Verne’s 1873 adventure, Around the World in 80 Days, running July 6 to August 13. All the world’s a stage, literally, in this theatrical tour-de-force.

It is directed by master farceur Damon Bonetti, who helmed the Hedgerow’s phenomenally popular production of Patrick Barlow’s The 39 Steps, as well as the hit summer farces Boeing Boeing and No Sex Please, We’re British.

Around the World in 80 Days returns familiar funny faces and puts them in an exciting, and incredibly silly, rollercoaster spectacle.  Danger, romance and comic surprises abound as five actors portraying 42 characters traverse four continents in this race against the clock. Zoran Kovcic (Boeing Boeing and No Sex Please, We’re British), Mark Swift (Boeing Beoing and No Sex Please, We’re British), Hanna Gaffney (Boeing Boeing), and Sarah Knittel (The Servant of Two Masters) take on the mountainous task of creating a world of characters.

“It’s a fantastic adventure story with wonderful characters, but it’s also the story about the breaking down of barriers – both literally and figuratively – as an appreciation is gained of other cultures and Fogg learns how to care and to love others,” said Bonetti. “It’s a fun, fastpaced, exciting adventure – full of quick changes and quirky characters – a classic summertime farce – destined to become a Hedgerow favorite.”

The intrepid adventurer Phileas Fogg, played by Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, with his loyal valet, Passepartout, agrees to an outrageous wager that puts his life and fortune at risk, as he embarks on a grand journey from Victorian London through Asia and across the Pacific in precisely 80 days.

“My first memory of this story was reading it at 10 years old. I love this adaptation. It captures that feeling from my youth. It is funny and adventurous and a great challenge for five actors….It’s humorous, romantic, and as witty as it is silly,” said Reed.

Stampeding elephants, raging typhoons, runaway trains, and unabashed slapstick fill this farcical adventure from start to finish. Hedgerow Theatre tackles the challenge of Verne’s epic adventure with its talented cast in its beautiful rustic setting and brings the joy and humour of Brown’s adaptation to life.

“How do we travel across the world on stage and keep a story moving forward, allowing the humor of the piece to be honest? That’s what we are attempting to find out,” said Reed.

The first preview performance of Around the World in 80 Days is Wednesday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Friday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Wednesday matinee on August 2, at 2 p.m., and Fogg’s balloon lands for a final time on Sunday, August 13, at 2 p.m.

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

Damon Bonetti Farceur Extraordinaire

Damon Bonetti is the Co-Founding Artistic Director of The Philadelphia Artist’s Collective and a Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University in Camden, Drexel University, and Rowan University.  He is excited to be back in the Hedgerows where he has directed the last three summer farces, The 39 Steps, No Sex Please, We’re British, and Boeing Boeing.  

“This play is a ton of fun, a true adventure! I’m interested in how these five actors interpret these roles and how to find the best world for them to inhabit,” says Bonetti.

Damon has directed or acted at many of the area theaters and received Barrymore nominations for True Story at Passage Theater (Director), Orange Flower Water at Luna Theater (Supporting Actor)  and The Hound of the Baskervilles at Lantern Theater (Ensemble).

He recently directed the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective production of The White Devil, with Jared Reed as Duke Brachianno, and appeared in All’s Well That Ends Well.  He holds an M.F.A. from Florida State University /Asolo Theatre and a Bachelor of Arts from DeSales University.

He’s spent the past three summer’s in Rose Valley making people laugh with farces, and this summer will be no different. He loves the intimacy of the audience that Hedgerow offers and the connection to its patrons.

“There’s no prettier place outside nor funnier inside than Hedgerow Theatre,” says Bonetti, “[and] the collective shared experience that those people have – hearing the laughs, gasps and groans is why we do this.”

The first preview performance of Around the World in 80 Days is Wednesday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Friday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Wednesday matinee on August 2, at 2 p.m., and Fogg’s balloon lands for a final time on Sunday, August 13, at 2 p.m.

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

7 Things Fitness has Taught Me About Acting

Madalyn St. John is an actor appearing for the second time at Hedgerow. She has performed in The Servant of Two Masters and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She is also a fitness instructor in the Greater Philadelphia area. Below, check out her Top 7 things fitness has taught her about acting and life.

1. How to handle long hours

I am not a morning person. Yet, I’ve been waking up at 3:45am, Monday through Friday, for the last three and a half years to teach early morning bootcamp classes. While this has certainly increased my appreciation for a good nap, it has also trained my body to get up and get moving even when it doesn’t want to.

Days on a film set can be long and exhausting. Teaching early morning classes I have learned to handle the occasional 19-hour day. Gone are the days when I would wake up long after the sun; now I try not to laugh when my actor friends complain about an “early” 7 a.m. call time.

2. Mix it up

If I do the same class or program too long, I get bored and end up falling off the fitness wagon. I mix up my routine throughout the week with running, HIIT or circuit training, weight training and kickboxing to challenge my body and keep boredom at bay.

I apply the same principal to my acting life. I’m working on Shakespeare now, but I also take a Meisner class twice a week and most of my past work has been musical theatre. Exploring different areas and styles of acting is not only really fun, but it is also a great way to challenge yourself and grow as an actor.

3. Goal setting

I am really big on goal-setting. There’s no point working out everyday if you don’t know what you’re working towards. I try to set specific goals with meal plans and workout schedules that are manageable but will help me get the results I want. Setting specific goals is vital to acting. You could float around taking whatever job comes your way for years without making any real progress.  Goals might be business-oriented (like creating a website, putting together a reel or sending submissions) or more creative (like learning a new special skill or writing a screenplay). Just like with fitness, you have to think about what you want and then map out the steps to take to get there.

4. Don’t limit yourself

“I can’t do push-ups.” I hear this time and time again from new clients; but “can’t” is the dirty four-letter word of my classes. My advice is the always the same: try, practice, try again. In acting, you absolutely CANNOT be afraid to GO FOR IT. If you hold back, you’ll be dead in the water before you even begin. I’ve surprised myself many times by trying something I didn’t think I could do, only to find that I could do it—and what a great feeling that is, in the gym or on the stage!

5. No pain no gain

How cliché, right? The thing is, clichés exist for a reason: they are usually true. If I’m not sore a day or two after my workout, I take that as a sign that I didn’t push myself enough. Soreness after a workout is literally thousands of tiny microtears in your muscles. The muscle the grows back in its place is thicker and stronger, thus you literally need to go through the pain to gain muscle.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of “pain” to be had as an actor. There’s a lot of crumby jobs and tiny roles you have to go through to get to the good ones. There’s long hours, and low pay, and unprofessional “professionals” and there’s a lot of rejection, putting yourself out there time and time again only to hear, “no thank you,” 19 times out of 20; but it’s worth it for that 1 time.

6. Make a choice, then commit to it

My biggest problem when trying to get in shape or eat healthy is—like many people—sticking to it. As a result, I usually go for plans that are pretty strict, with no grey area. If I know the rules of a meal plan or workout, I’m much more likely to adhere to them. Once I’ve decided to do it, I follow through to the end.

As an actor you have to make choices. Sometimes HUGE choices. Most of the time, there’s not one RIGHT way to do a scene or play a character, but whichever way you choose you have to choose HARD. Nothing is more uninteresting to watch than an actor who can’t commit to their choices.

7. Try, try again

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set a fitness goal for myself and failed. Yes, FAILED! Does that mean I rolled up my yoga mat and stormed out, never to return again? Of course not! If I fail to get the results I want, I reassess, taking stock of what worked and what to do differently next time. And then I get to work again.

If you want to be an actor, and I mean REALLY want it, there is no quitting. There is no time off. There is no failure. You say to yourself, “Ok, that sucked. What can I learn from it? What can I do right now to put me on a better path this time around?” My favorite thing to do after a crappy audition is look at the next audition I have coming up and start preparing for it HARD. Whether it’s sit-ups or Shakespeare, you have to keep pushing.

Seven Lessons of Stage Combat (that can apply to everything)

Allison Bloechl is an Actor-Combatant with the society of American Fight Directors trained in Broadsword, Single Sword, Rapier & Dagger, Knife and Unarmed combats as well as Company Member of Hedgerow Theatre currently appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  For more information visit www.safd.org

Here are some tips for the actor or the combatant or even (gasp!) the actor-combatant.  Stage combat is another branch of acting, so all of its lessons can be used in any kind of acting, just like anything you learn in acting can be used in combat.

1) Ask Questions

 In combat (as on stage) it is always important to ask questions.  Making sure everyone is on the same page is not only important for storytelling, it’s important for safety when the choreographed illusion of violence (the definition of stage combat) is being utilized.  It can be anything from “what’s my target” to “what foot am I supposed to be on” or the good old beloved “Why”.

2) Know Your Intent

A basic in both acting and combat.  What are you trying to get from your partner?  Why?  There are infinite levels of depth to be discovered.  In combat, the whys include “Why am I fighting this person?”, “Why this move?”, “Why this weapon” etc. and “What do I want to do – scare, hurt, maim, kill?”  It’s storytelling with swords (or knives, fans, rebar, whatever the play calls for) and all the same rules apply.

3) Consent, consent, consent 

Another biggie, yet often overlooked.  It’s not only important to check in with your on stage partners (acting or combat) on moments that require physical risk or intimacy.  Always check in with your partner.  Make sure they’re okay with any moves that are going on and consent to their bodies being manipulated however the choreography or staging calls for it.  Ask explicitly “Is it okay if I touch you this way?”  “Are you comfortable?”  “Was that alright for you?”  A lot of great information on this subject can be found at www.intimacydirectorsinternational.com.

4) Partnering 

In this same vein, partnering is very important.  One of the three golden rules of improv, this rule also applies to acting and combat – Make your partner look good.  You have to make the stakes real.  If someone comes on stage with deadly intent and you’re reacting like they forgot your guac at Chipotle you’re not telling a good story, fight or no fight.  This is especially important in combat when all the moves aren’t necessarily “true”.  If I cut my partner’s arm on stage, with a dulled blade using no pressure, it’s their job to react like they’ve had a very important muscle group destroyed.  I cannot put a true amount of pressure on my partner, so we together have to make each other look like we’re really fighting.

5) Cue, reaction, action 

This one may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but it’s very important to remember.  The three steps of any combat action are the Cue (signalling to your partner what’s coming), the reaction (your partner emotionally and physically reacting accordingly with choreography) and the action (the fight move).  It’s a good technique for acting in general too, especially in intimacy choreography.  Until you know your partner knows what’s coming, you don’t go.

6) Know thyself

A big one for any performer regardless of type.  Ophelia cannot cry unless the actress portraying her is properly hydrated.  Likewise, a combatant cannot fight unless their body is warmed up.  Knowing what your instrument needs during rehearsal and performance is a must.  When in the building stages of choreography, it’s important to know how your body works.  Knowing you have a bad knee or that you won’t be able to do a certain move in the heels you’ll be wearing for the show  (story of my life) keeps everyone safe and saves a lot of injury and time.

7) Tell the truth

Hold the mirror up to nature.  Whether telling a violent story or not, if it’s not being told with honesty and conviction, it’s not being told right.  An actor is nothing without telling their character’s truth.