Alright, now that I”ve outlined the basics of what I do, I am going to try to write shorter blogs. This next one might be a bit racy, as it is about one of my most recent fight directing jobs.
So in Vancouver this past National Workshop, I was awarded the title of Fight Director by the Fight Masters of FDC. I have been fight directing for years, but to be recognized officially by my organization makes me very proud and encourages me to uphold the high standards we hold.
So, that being said, what is my first fight directing job after being declared an FDC Fight Director? I had to choreograph a sado-masochist threesome that includes the fellating of the American Music Award and ends with a castration. Seriously.
Zack Russell became the first director to fully stage Alice Tuan”s “unstagable play” Ajax (por nobody) at this 2012 SummerWorks Festival in Toronto. “The play centers on four people who get together for a booze and drug-fuelled evening of sex, but the sexual spree unexpectedly rages out control. Part comedy, part biting social commentary, Ajax (por nobody) is an explicit look at sex and violence in modern culture.” And it was my job to add the violence.
“Where would you even start?” you might ask; or “Do you have experience with this? Is this what they teach you at FDC?” Certainly not! But somehow once I got there I found the task quite manageable. Allow me to explain.
It is interesting, sometimes, what qualifies as “the job of a Fight Director”. I have choreographed “homoerotic wrestling,” rolling on the ground make-outs, sword fights with pencils, accidental hangings, characters fighting throngs of invisible pirates, wizards hitting other wizards with invisible balls of energy, and a cat fight (literally people dressed as cats clawing and pulling each others tails). I have choreographed many more “normal” fights also, but I want to give you an idea that this job is not always what you might expect. But it always involves the same principles.
So when faced with choreographing a man tearing off another mans testicles, I looked to my strengths. I always find it helps to be a strong performer as a Fight Director. As an actor and a combatant myself, I have a wealth of emotional and physical instincts to draw from. Have I ever castrated anyone? No. But I know how to tell a physical story, and as it turns out, slots machine my skills apply. I simply had to break it down:
2 Pieces of Violence: the Forced Fellatio of the American Music Award, and a Castration.
- First I must make it safe: so I have to make sure the music award which this actor must fellate won”t chip teeth, or that there are safeties in place so that he doesn”t accidentally go too far and cut or scrape his throat. I must then teach the aggressor how to create the illusion of force so that it is the victim who is actually in control of the action. Finally, I must make sure that the actor is not actually grabbing the other actor”s “tender bits”.
- I must tell the story the director needs told: even though the castration happens behind a set piece, the casino portugal physical action must be clear enough that the audience understands what is happening. As with any piece of storytelling it must be split into story beats so that the actors and the audience are clear on what the journey is. This involves clarity of focus and movement, timing, and both smooth and sharp actions.
- I must help feed the actor”s character motivation: in this case I needed to know whether it was an accidental castration, or purposeful. It turned out to be on purpose, so we found it was much stronger for the actors to connect eyes before the action – it draws the audience into the story as opposed to the technique and puts the violence into the minds of the viewers.
- I like to help characters with wound performance – with specific body isolation, tension, breath, and vocalization.
- Finally I advise on special effects: do we need blood effects? In the case of the castration, then yes – we are doing two separate blood effects – one for the victim”s wound and one for the emancipated “testicle”. There was also the hope of making a dummy music award in rubber, which would have been safer than the real glass one (which I found quite intimidating in that context).
Finally the actions had to be run technically over and over until they were clear and safe – the director, Zack Russell, and I looking on to make sure the effect was clear.
So there you have it. Was it successful? Read Below.
“Less an adaptation of Sophocles”s play than an exploration of its themes of sex and brutality, Alice Tuan”s Ajax (Por Nobody) is a remarkable work, drawing on the language of porn and pop culture excesses to present a savage indictment of contemporary society. Long considered un-playable – rape, bestiality and castration are on the menu, along with some unusual appetizers – this production feels spontaneous and slightly dangerous, thanks to Zack Russell”s clear direction and the committed performances by a quartet of actors.” (Glenn Sumi)
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