Hold the Beer

Hold the Beer

“Those who say it is impossible should hold the beer of those who are already doing it.”

–George Bernard Shaw, quoting Mark Twain in a fax to Winston Churchill

One of the main reasons I created the Lab was to promote the idea that we can improve theatrical violence–especially swordwork–by translating authentic historical techniques into safe and dramatically effective stage combat.

But there are those in the stage combat world and in the world of historical martial arts who say this goal of innovation is a fool’s errand, that historical techniques can’t be done safely or that actors can never learn them.

This page is a gallery to just a few of the people around the world who are already doing historical stage violence:

R&D Choreography

Richard Gilbert and Victor Bayona in Chicago run this partnership that has a 20+ year history of theatrical violence design and over 10 years of incorporating HEMA techniques into their work. They have choreographed well over 250 shows in about every style imaginable, but they specialize in gritty, realistic violence that doesn’t looked staged at all.


Glen Lachlann Estate College of Arms

With Australian branches in Perth, Brisbane, and Melbourne and a fourth in Malta, GLECA is a fully accredited Western Martial Arts college. Co-founders  Marcus Byron and Stuart Macdonald not only teach HEMA classes, but also design violence for professional theatre at the highest level.


Allen Johnson: fighter, writer

Allen Johnson is a Screenwriter, Historic European Martial Artist, and a fight choreographer/stunt fighter. Allen has had several screenplays and stage plays produced with several more in development. He has trained in historic swordplay for over 15 years and has been involved with the Society of American Fight Directors for about 6 years. He also teaches numerous screenwriting classes, workshops, and panels, and has appeared as a guest speaker on writing as well as providing script coverage services to others. He continues to train in historic martial arts with the Palmetto Knights: Historic Steel Combat Team, based out of Columbia, South Carolina.


Steven Schwall, Academy of Combat and Movement Education

Steven Schwall has been a practicing Historic European martial artist since 1974.  He has participated in fully armored tournaments with companies like the Company of St. George.   In 2006, he was asked to lend his expertise to a production of Camelot, and his journey into stage combat began.  He has since professionally choreographed over 30 productions for Michigan theater companies, colleges and high schools. He joined the SAFD in November of 2007, and has been seen as a regular at the Winter Wonderland Workshop, the Eureka Stage Combat Workshop, Carnage in the Corn, and the Lincoln Assassination.  In June of 2016, he became a Certified Instructor of Stage Combat with that organization.  He holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Fine Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and  soon an MA in Theatre Performance from Eastern Michigan University.  He also holds a Level one Professors Certificate in the Margolis Method of Dynamic Actor Training.


Todd Campbell, Fight Master of Fight Directors Canada

Todd Campbell has been practicing the art of stage combat for over twenty years. A certified Fight Master with Fight Directors Canada, he has created violence for over one hundred theatre and film productions. Todd was a resident fight director at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival for four seasons where he worked on such critically acclaimed productions as Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, Camelot, Dangerous Liaisons and Zastrozzi to name a few. An avid student of historical European martial arts, he has spent his career as a fight director trying to infuse theatrical violence with more historical realism. Todd has had the great opportunity to train with many of the leading experts in historical martial arts and has used this knowledge to create fights that are not only safe and tell the story of the play but are also martially sound.

Todd also created the popular show ‘Duel of Ages’ at the Toronto Fringe (’07) and Next Stage Festivals (’11). An anthology play about the history of dueling, DOA was a vehicle to showcase the talents of FDC members in the Toronto area. Todd is a founding member of the award winning Riot Act stunt team.