Category: Design Theory

#39 Seeing With the Audience’s Eye

#39 Seeing With the Audience’s Eye

Sometimes as violence designers we think the fights we’ve designed are fantastic, but they seem much less amazing in performance. Why does that happen? In this week’s episode we talk about watching fights from the audience’s perspective, why it can be artistically dangerous to see your fights only from the “first-person-shooter” perspective, and how we can develop our internal “audience eye” to monitor our design.

#37 Designing to Music

#37 Designing to Music

In Episode #37 of the Violence Design Lab podcast, we’re talking about designing fights that coordinate with musical underscoring. Whether you are literally choreographing beat by beat to the score or you need to fill a musical interlude with a fight of a specific duration, we’ll discuss some design challenges and solutions to make your violence play along in harmony.

Contents:

2:55   The Challenges of Designing Fights to Match the Music

8:57   Managing Directorial Expectations

12:03  Tips to Successfully Design to Music

#33 Portraying Honorable vs Dishonorable Characters

#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     The Rules of Engagement:

What Triggers allow violence to be used?

Who are acceptable Targets of violence?

What Types of violence are permissible?

What Tactics are not an option?

24:01     Basic Truisms about honorable characters

27:51     The situational nature of honor during fighting

#32 Style Seminar: Historical Drama

#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 you’re in a historical drama in the first place!

 

This week’s episode is the second 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. I will also discuss the reasons that make the style challenging and how using it can affect the logistics of your production process, and finally, I’ll wrap up with a discussion of the general “feel” or tone that the style evokes in performance.

Contents

0:58   Define “Historical Drama”

4:52   The Elements of the Style

15:34 Why Is This Style Challenging?

26:49 What Tone Does This Style Create?

27:53 Takeaways

#30 Style Seminar: Hollywood Swashbuckling

#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. I will also discuss the reasons that make the style challenging and how using it can affect the logistics of your production process, and finally, I’ll wrap up with a discussion of the general “feel” or tone that the style evokes in performance.

This week. I’m examining classic Hollywood Swashbuckling: the flashy, dashing swordplay of the likes of Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. What makes swash tick? What are some of the classic tropes?

And wait…don’t I HATE swash??

Contents
3:24 Define “Swashbuckling”
4:11 The Elements of the Swash Style
15:30 Why Is This Style Challenging?
18:45 What Tone Does This Style Create?

#29 Choreographing Fights Alone

#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 both sides or multiple opponents when you design without the benefit of a fight partner on the other end of the sword. How do you keep everything straight? And because your fight isn’t “tested” with a partner, how do you know it will work when you give it to the actors in rehearsal?

#28 Training to Design

#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 performer who knows stage combat to a designer responsible for conceiving, teaching, and staging the violence for an entire show.

Internships or apprenticeships are a great way to bridge the gap. This week, I have a panel of people with personal experiences as apprentices:

Victor Bayona, who began as an apprentice for R&D Choreography in Chicago (and went on to become a partner in the company), Chloe Baldwin, an intern who trained under Victor and is now working as a designer on her own, and Almanya Narula and Nicolas Cabrera, who are currently interning with R&D

It was a great interview, with lots of information for both potential apprentices and for experienced designers considering become mentors to train the next generation.

#25 Working With Young Fighters

#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 experience than designing with adults.

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

#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?

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#23 Three Ways to Make Your Fights Work

#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 characters we expect to see (Physicalization of Personality) and how to break those expectations for effect (the Dramatic Change), as well as how to create and maintain dramatic tension, and more!

You didn’t think fights were just a string of cool stage combat moves, did you?