Crossed Swords: The Making of Mutiny on the Sea Witch (Part 4)

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A thrilling sword fight.

5, 6, 7, 8 takes on a whole new meaning at Mutiny on the Sea Witch as our swashbucklers had to first learn how to swashbuckle. No pirate show is complete without some sword fighting, saber rattling, and cutlass choreography. But it’s not enough to hand a sword to an actor and expect them to excel right away. Theatrical fights require training, practice, and lots of imaginative design to create the impact you want on stage. Here we’ll have our wonderful fight choreographer tell us more about the swords and stagecraft created for our latest Master Mystery Production.

CROSSED SWORDS: The Making of Mutiny on the Sea Witch (Part 4)

Ever since we first conceptualized Mutiny on the Sea Witch, we new we needed a sword fight onstage to add to the drama. But we needed to do it the correct way. We needed someone to teach out performers proper technique and choreograph a safe routine for the pirates to perform. We turned to Master Mystery Productions veteran, Skeleton Key Winner (Goodbye Hollywood), and Diamond Mask Winner (Brooke Simon, Famous Last Words) Brianne Hardwick to be our expert sword fight choreographer given her award-winning background in weapons skills such as archery, thrown weapons, etc. in the local Barony of Naevehjem for the Kingdom of Caid in the Society of Creative Anachronism, Inc. On this post, she’ll share how she designed the sword fight for Mutiny on the Sea Witch.

Flinging Sticks and Eight Counts—Creating Fight Choreography for Mutiny on the Sea Witch by Brianne Hardwick

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“Brie, do you want to help them sword fight?”  I mean, really, who am I to turn down such a request?  My experience with playing with swords are as follows: I hit people with rattan sticks in the SCA.  We’re all wearing armor, so we really go at it and hit each other…sometimes it hurts, but there is a technique to swinging the sword.  The other experience is the bit of time I’ve been able to spend with the local Saber Guild, a Star Wars related lightsaber fighting group.  Learning how to swing a light saber with carefully choreographed moves.  Going into this experience, I figured that the lightsabers were going to provide more training material, except we weren’t going to use actual lightsabers.

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When I arrived at rehearsal, Daniel had these plastic swords for all of the actors to use, save Kate and Jaq, who had their own specialized weapons.  I myself had a ½ inch dowel from Walmart, which they tell you to practice thrusts with in the SCA if you’re doing rapier style fighting.  The tiny plastic swords would not work for the older actors, nor the ones who had to fight against Kate and Jaq, so we got them their own dowels to work with.  They learned seven basic swings and a thrust, and how to defend against them.  Spending an evening counting to eight repeatedly is always great fun.  They learned how to stand sideways to both attack and defend, moving one step forward on the attack, and a small step back to defend.  With one swing in particular, it was fun to teach them how to make it more dramatic.  The actors were enthusiastic, which always makes me happy.  I like to teach, and I like when my students like to learn.

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Once they had the basic swings and defenses down, I was able to choreograph several different fights, ranging from something easier for the actors under the age of eight, to some fun complicated stuff that I get to do when I get to saber practice.  Everyone dove in, which was great, and the best part about it is that no one got hurt.   They all have different fight moves to memorize, customized to their characters, and even complete with taunting.  It’s really fun to watch.  I hope everyone enjoys it.

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Sword vs. Spoon

Our final weekend of Mutiny on the Sea Witch is coming up. Be sure to catch a ride on our pirate ship before the pirates sheath their swords for good. Can you help the pirates discover the instigator of the mutiny and find the fabled Loot of a Thousand Ports? There’s only one way to do it. Join us at Mutiny at the Sea Witch!

Avast me hearties! We don’t want to set sail without you.

–Master Mystery Productions

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