About the Lab

About the Lab



The Violence Design Lab is a podcast and online resource to help train designers, choreographer, martial artists, and stage combat students to create better fights and violence for theatrical performance.

You will also quickly notice here that I strongly support the inclusion of historically authentic fighting styles into our violence design vocabulary, which will require adjusting our “standard” stage combat techniques or innovating entirely new ones.

In other words, this isn’t your father’s stage combat site.

I believe that we are on the cusp of a great opportunity to grow our art and to take advantage of the research and practical experimentation done to revive the study of Renaissance and Medieval fighting styles by practitioners of Historical European Martial Arts.

So much work has been done by HEMA scholars in the last ten years that current theatrical violence teachers and designers have the chance to literally define the new techniques and standards that will influence our art for decades to come.

Join the Revolution.


 About David Bareford

My passion is helping directors, designers, and actors craft the fights and scenes of violence that are often called for in live theatre. I love the magic of staging stories that can communicate the full ferocity and power of the playwright’s work while keeping the actors absolutely safe and free from harm.  The Violence Design Lab is my way of giving back to the stage combat community, sharing my experiences and lessons of over 25 years in the industry with the next generation of violence designers.

My theatre studies began at the American Conservatory Theatre Academy in San Francisco before I attended Northwestern College in Iowa to earn my Bachelor’s degree in Theatre. My stage combat training began in 1990 under the marvelous tutelage of David “Pops” Doersch in his MASCS studio in Minneapolis. After two years of consistent study, Pops encouraged me to start designing violence–I did, I fell in love with the art and haven’t looked back since.

I’ve now designed close to 250 productions and taught scores of classes at theatres, colleges, and high schools all across the country.  In 1996, I partnered with Richard Gilbert in Chicago to found R&D Choreography,  a violence design partnership. We enjoyed a 16-year collaboration, working on over 200 shows together and earning two nominations for Joseph Jefferson Awards for Excellence in Fight Choreography (the Jeff Awards are Chicago’s equivalent of New York’s Tonys).

When I’m not in the theatre or classroom, I love raising goats and rabbits on our property in southwest Washington state. As a hobby, I build custom furniture out of lumber I mill from trees right here on our land. If you like that sort of thing, you can visit my personal blog at bareford.wordpress.com.