Sunday, June 1, 2008

A brief rant

On the topic of Stage Combat again:

This is Jenn's rant re: slow motion fight scenes on stage. What does a slow-motion staged fight say to me? It says cop out.

Actors trying to move slowly on stage is just painful to watch, first of all. You might as well have one of them spit water as they're punched, a-la the Dodgeball-Raging Bull parody--it's that silly. Sorry to break it to you, but it's not cool-and-artsy-looking; it's sloppy and/or comical.

Slow-motion action done on film is actually real-time speed with the film slowed down. That's different. Onstage, it's actors moving slowly, which just ruins the suspension of disbelief.

The reason I say "cop out": a slow-motion fight onstage gives me, the viewer, a clear message. It says: "We don't have anyone here who is a professional fight director, nor do we feel it's important enough to get the money together to hire one." Or, "we did get some choreography done, but we didn't schedule enough rehearsal time to get it up to speed." Or, "we think this is really cool-looking, but then we don't know any better."

But Jenn, you may be asking, are you going to just rant and complain about this for another paragraph, or is there a solution to this problem, Miss High-and-Mighty-Author-Chick? Sure there's a solution. It's two-fold. Either do it right, or don't do it at all. You choose.

The first thing I'd ask of a director who allows a slow-motion fight in her show is: Do you need the fight at all? Does this scene necessitate an illusion of violence to be shown onstage? Jenn's Jaws rule is this: the less you see, the more gripping it'll be. Honestly, 95-99% of the time, I'd assert you really don't need fight choreography at all. In the other 4-1% of the time, you'd better have enough rehearsal time set aside to make the scene part of the play.


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