Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Boil

If you had told me six months ago, that I would in Louisiana at the stage combat workshop - I would have used my crutches to point and laugh at you probably. I might have even gotten excited. But not nearly as excited I am to be here

among people who love stage combat. I have never seen so many people casually walking around with swords before. Here in Fredonia, those of us who do own weapons carry them concealed inside guitar cases. There, People who sell knives, swords, whips, shields and then the ones buying them will offer to show you how to crack that whip. Taking classes on fighting with handcuffs, on-stage intimacy, quarterstaff with music. In two days' time (the equivalent to which, I would get my one combat class), I had TEN classes.

I walked out of Louisiana Tech with bruises, weapons, friends. As Prof. Steve told us later, the other teachers were impressed with the talent of the Fredonia students, fighting at the top of our level. Even me and Eleah held our own in the Advanced classes, and Scooter and Kelsey, who graduated two years ago, still had the skills. Tom came in second in the fencing tournament and Hananh got the rec for sword and shield renewal. As she said, the bruise on her arm was #worththerec. #worththerec - having one of my fight partners telling me "You don't look intimidating.  You can fight well - which is even more intimidating."

Me, Tom, Eleah, Hannah, Zeb, Kelsey and Scooter and Sarah. I would not have asked to spend this weekend with better people (or celebrated anyone else's birthdays!). I'll blog all my notes and memories later. This is the appreciation post, especially appreciating Sunday:

Where I come from, we do barbeques in the backyard, burgers and hot dogs. In WNY, we usually substitute that for wings. But in Louisiana, for the Boil, they actually boil crawfish and have everyone from the workshop and their families come for a day of aerial skills, knife and tomahawk throwing, violin playing, impromptu fight teaching, pinatas. They were still going strong when the Fredonia crew finally pulled out about nine p.m. to start the drive back. It is the longest drive in my life and I can't wait to make it again.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


As much as I love working with Prof. Steve and my classmates - there are concepts that I have been struggling to grasp for the last couple of years that suddenly clicked when working with other teachers this weekend.

  • Push. Sitting on the ground, have the partner push you three times, only succeeding in moving you on the third try. They take your seat and now you will push three different ways.  Objective is to find three repeatable, clear actions. 
  • Hand-Heart. Like the tai chi finger tips exercise but palm to back of hand; rolling from heart to heart (can switch hands and side of chest). 
  • Rolling on the floor. You need the floor. Floor leads to needing another person. Person leads to people. People into group. 
  • Intimacy: hand-shakes, hugs, hair-pulls, chokes. 
  • Water meets Water. Slow-motion, find different ways to improv "and yes" for actions.
  • Music. Using music to set the mood, tone, rhythm, character of a fight.
  • Meisner. Start with an objective (I want to get away). Choreograph repeatable action. Clean up for mistakes. Combat it (add knaps, angles). Perform!

  •  Stage Combat is a series of magic tricks (knaps, angles, victim control, etc.)
  • "Contemporary violence" = people who don't know how to fight but want to hurt each other.
  • with victims and contemporary violence, it is made up of fear, effort, chaos, actual mistakes. More about getting away than fighting back. See victimization, battered women syndrome (curling up in a ball because fighting back only angers the attacker).
  • The three C's: connection, comfort, control. 
  • Choking should feel like a hug, so the victim is comfortable enough to squirm.
  • Smallsword: Restoration era weapon, following the rapier. Last sword made to kill. Small point, meant for thrusting. Elegant, tricky.
  • Handcuffs affect balance. (hands behind: knee to stomach, turn shoulder away, use other knee to the stomach again) (hands in front: block punch, knee to stomach, elbow to face, hand pulled to side, push to ground behind, kneel over, use knee to break arm).
  • Human Reaction Theory: if an attacker uses a particular part of their body to invade personal space (chest, shoulder, etc.), that body part will be the first a victim will use to reaction with.
  • the difference in pleasure vs. pain is when pleased, displaying the vulnerable parts. Scrunched up vs. opened.
  • Core. Essence, vagina/baby makers, diaphragm muscles, heart, soul, center.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

To-Morrow is My Birthday

"Well, then, another drink!"

In a car, for the twenty-three hour drive - all the way from NY to Ruston, LA. And the first thing we do upon arrival is help Sarah F. dismantle and polish the single swords for tomorrow. Tomorrow, my birthday. Tomorrow, The Boil. 

Out to an overpriced Mexican restaurant where the margaritas are all two-for-one. On the front porch, swinging and swigging shots of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey and some shots of Kinky liqueur.

To be twenty-two. To be in Louisiana. For my fourteenth birthday, I got to go to New York City and I thought, that is where I'm going to be, doing theatre, after I graduated college. Now, I'm a month away from graduating college and I'm in Louisiana for my birthday to do stage combat and then to California to do theatre. Maybe I won't get to NYC. I think I will get there someday though. Maybe it will be just to spend another birthday there - my twenty-forth? 

But to twenty-two. To Louisiana, stage combat. To California in a month. And to-morrow is my birthday.

- To-morrow is my birthday. If I die,
Slip out of this with Bacchus for a guide,
What soul would interdict the poppied way?
Heroes may look the Monster down, a child
Can wilt a lion, who is cowed to see
Such bland unreckoning of his strength--but I,
Having so greatly lived, would sink away
Unknowing my departure. I have died
A thousand times, and with a valiant soul
Have drunk the cup, but why? In such a death
To-morrow shines and there's a place to lean...