It’s a near-universally accepted truism that there is no drama without conflict. Onstage, that dramatic tension can certainly be generated by internal conflict or verbal sparring; but most audiences want to see something a bit more, shall we say, kinetic. Romeo and Juliet would be a bore if it were nothing but a couple of hours of midnight trysts by moony teenagers, unrelieved by those street battles between first Tybalt and Mercutio, then Romeo and Tybalt, that send the happy lovers down the inexorable road to a tragic end.
Onscreen, we all have our favorite scraps be it Fight Club or, when it comes to swordfighting, the classic spiral-staircase dance between Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Movies with contemporary or futuristic settings may rely less on flashing blades than on firepower, but they still generally require gymnastic and pugilistic skills in one scene or another. And in theatrical settings, which don’t lend themselves to the detonation of large quantities of explosives, a solid grounding in stage combat is a requisite component of the toolbox of most every serious actor.
So how do they learn to do that stuff night after night, without hurting themselves or someone else in the vicinity? Normand Beauregard knows. As a stage-combat choreographer, Beauregard has staged more than 1,000 fight scenes for theatre and film. As a teacher, trainer, guest artist and professor, he has been offering stage-combat master classes, residencies and full courses of study at colleges, universities and conservatory theater programs for over 30 years. And he’s coming to the Unison Arts and Learning Center’s Sunday Salon this weekend to share a few of his secrets.
Beauregard’s curriculum vitae include over ten years as both resident fight master and actor with Rhode Island’s Gamm Theatre. His recent credits include Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck and Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing and Romeo and Juliet. He worked as fight master for Kit Marlowe at the Public Theater in New York City and fight assistant for Dracula: The Musical on Broadway. He directed fights for Trinity Rep productions of Angels in America, Part II Perestroika; The Illusion; The Return of Don Quixote; A Preface to the Alien Garden; and As You Like It. He was the founding artistic director of the Cumberland Company for the Performing Arts, where he staged 11 seasons of epic sequences featuring a cast of over 200. He has taught and choreographed fight scenes for colleges and universities throughout New England. He also works as a professional stunt coordinator for independent films.
“Choreographing the Fight with Normand Beauregard” will be the third in Unison’s brilliant new Second Sunday Salon Series. The presentation begins at 2 p.m. this Sunday, April 14. Purchased in advance, tickets cost $20 general admission and $15 for Unison members; at the door, they’ll go for $25 general, $20 for members. Students get in for half-price with a valid ID. To order, call (845) 255-1559 or visit www.unisonarts.org.
Choreographing the Fight with Normand Beauregard, Sunday, April 14, 2 p.m., $20/$15, Unison Arts, 68 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz; (845) 255-1559, www.unisonarts.org.