Fighting

Hamlet 2008 - Rehearsal Scrapbook - Terry King (right) in a fight workshop. Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC

Extract from the Rehearsal Scrapbook in the 2008 production programme:

The fight scenes begin with a discussion with the director and the actors about what sort of fight they consider to be appropriate: how the characters relate to the fight and how they would feel about fighting. From there we build up various moves, listen to various suggestions, and through rehearsal we refine these until hopefully we realise the vision of what we want the fight to be.

Most actors don't have the specific technical knowledge of how to use a sword, so I try to interpret what they want to communicate and make the fights expressive of that, but also accurate. Taking voice as an example, if you talk very quietly on the stage it might seem very realistic, but the audience won't be able to hear at the back. The same applies to swordplay. You have to interpret and experiment with what is precisely accurate in order to make it appear realistic on stage.

The biggest challenge in Hamlet is that there is nothing to distract attention from the fights. Arranging big fight scenes with lots of people on stage does present its own problems, but it also means that the swordplay doesn't necessarily have to be very clever, because your eyes are constantly being pulled all around the stage. In Hamlet there is a lot of focus on just two people fighting - they are the centre of attention.

Written by Terry King, Fight Director
Photograph by Ellie Kurttz shows Terry King (on the right) in a fight workshop
© RSC

Buy DVD: Hamlet 2008

Hamlet 2008 - DVD front cover

Download the Rehearsal Scrapbook (PDF 1.2MB)

Hamlet 2008 - Rehearsal Scrapbook © RSC

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Teaching Shakespeare