One of my fondest memories and best acting gigs I ever got was playing Anne Bonny in the Toronto Pirate Festival between 2006-2008. I got to swashbuckle, carry an axe, wear fun costumes, and pretend my red hair meant I was Irish.
Before smart phones and before social media this video was taken of myself as the irate Anne Bonny and the now Artistic Director of Dauntless City Theatre Scott Emerson Moyle.
Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! Yarr I be missin the golden age of my piracy days 😉
This past week I have been up at 5 am to go to set for a tv show you haven’t heard about (yet) and I can’t say (yet) but it’s really no big deal. In fact, that’s not really what this post is about.
This post is about education and how you can learn so many things and pack your brain full until you feel like saying, “why did I waste all that time and money on learning those things? They are so specific and I don’t use those skills every day – why did I do that?”
This is how I feel about stage combat. I have an Intermediate FDC certification that I will honestly say I have not maintained the way I had set out to do when I first started to rise in the ranks. I found that I wasn’t getting hired to fight – on set or on stage. I come back to it a few times a year but I am in no way a Fighter like some of my friends (who are Advanced, or even Fight Directors themselves!) but I do love a good fake fight. I am an archer and I own several weapons that I have been trained on. Alas, how often do I actually get to use these skills? Almost never in the practical sense.
Then I’m on set for this tv show and I overhear that these two guys need to “fight” and then he needs to “fall” and my heart skips a beat. The one guy is like “uhhh ok, sure” clearly nervous as he will be falling with no padding and no mats and it will be cement in the dead of winter. Fun. I can’t stay quiet – I immediately present myself and TELL HIM (not ask), but tell him I will be showing him how to fall safely. After I get the scenario that he will be tripped and he will fall back – I show him how to safely get himself to the ground, avoiding tailbone injuries and wrist injuries. I feel good. I feel SO GOOD that I can supply this information for him.
So the next time you are learning something or training in something I encourage you to not only do it simply because you love it (I can’t stop loving archery! And now I kinda dig axe throwing…) but because you will double that sense of joy when you can APPLY that oh-so-specific knowledge to actually help someone.
Today I had the pleasure of fighting. Not usually a sentence most people get to say. But my good friend Tammy Everett is a singer/actor/stage combatant and she asked if I could play the big bad in her up coming music video for her new album. I adore playing the villain, they always get cooler clothes – why is that?!
I’m wearing my hoodie up as in the shoot I will have a hooded cape (see? cooler clothes!) so I wanted to let Tammy get used to grabbing my hooded head and not my hair – which will be wigged! Fun!
So here is a behind the scenes look at us building a fight:
The sunrise was most promising – getting up at 6 am is not something one usually looks forward to (personally I think getting up at dawn is for two things and two things only: getting on a plane in time and getting to set on time.) but I was getting to set on time.
The costumes were awesome – thanks to Ginger Martini, and I could fly away by eyelash alone after Kim Haddad got through with me! Look at them lashes! It was like I was doing push-ups with my lids ALL DAY – it was a weird feeling…
The set put me at ease because it was a theatre I knew and loved: The Annex Theatre. I did a Dracula the Un-Dead staged reading here and I have seen many a Fringe show here.
It was great to be someplace I felt cozy and homey with:
It was almost a 12 hour day. I need to remind you that I was dancing in heels, full make-up (with push-up lashes), this awesome red dress (see below) and using a sword for most of that.
I am proud to say I did not cry.
Filming is a different beast than theatre and I must confess I don’t know exactly how to make it my pet yet.
As you can see here – this is about half way through our day (the lovely Jason Martorino – also not a dancer – was my partner for the tango in this scene) and already my face wants to fall off. Bless the make-up artist! She kept me beaming all day!
In the end I’m pleased and proud I did something that challenged me mentally and physically. I have been watching movies with a different filter lately too… Now I always watch movies with the “oh cool, that must have been a crane shot” or “oh cool, I wonder how they got the hoverboard in in post?!” and stuff like that. But lately I have been tipping my hat to any actor that does something FOR REAL that requires them to do something they ain’t. Like Natalie Portman in Black Swan – she USED to dance, so maybe it wasn’t such a huge leap – (no pun intended) – okay better example, fight scenes in tv shows. They get zero time with their choreographer (okay they get some but really? For the amount of time they do to the time they have to mark and finalize it?) It takes an amazingly fast mind and dedicated will to let your mistakes go and just DO IT. I tip my hat to all you talented artists out there. If you can let me in on your secrets I would love to know them! Until then – I will take this weekend as a win and let myself ice my right thigh from all the lunges I did over the past 24 hours…
Thanks to everyone working on set for Secret Lives of Lovers yesterday and making it a really great day for me when the whole time I was scared to death of the Tango Fight. You all rock. You all rock SO HARD.
I love performing – but I am finding that I have a love/hate for rehearsals – is it the same for you? I love trying new things – but I really want to be able to do ALL THE THINGS and do them well. So right now I am learning to tango and faux-tango (aka movie movies to make it seem we are tangoing the crap out of a song) which is equally frustrating and exhilarating. I enjoy it so much, but hate that I am 30 years old with little dance background so it is a constant uphill battle. CONSTANT. But I am loving it at the same time. It is such a weird experience.
Here is some of the fight choreography, because learning to tango is just not enough, I’m having to relearn my small sword stage combat for this film too! LOVE IT. But again, life takes turns and twists and I haven’t been practising my bellestras and lunges in my living room for years so I am also rusty on my combat.
You can see how rusty here:
And yes because this is a dance-fight I have to fight in SLIPPY BALLROOM SHOES! This is my curse. This is my challenge. This is awesome – *sigh.