FULTON, NY – Stage combat was the theme of recent rehearsals for CNY Arts Center’s production of Narnia.
Director Amy Price guided actors from big to small in the safe handling of swords and daggers and choreographed battle scenes for the upcoming musical based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The C. S. Lewis classic is set to open April 17 and run through April 26 at CNY Arts Center located on River Glen Drive on the Cayuga Community College campus.
During a recent interview, Price described her background and approach to teaching stage combat.
“I took stage combat classes in high school and have experience with dance stage combat from years of ballet. Several years ago, when I choreographed the Narnia ballet, I did extensive research and went to an expert in stage combat who assisted me in basic fight choreography as well as combinations to teach as a starting point. I returned to his notes to prepare for the battle sequence for this production,” she said. “The first thing I teach with stage combat is safety – how to hold the weapon and then how to move the weapon. Stage combat is not real fighting and the actor must understand that. It is an intricate dance of footwork and arm movement that, when done together, is safe and entertaining. Then we move to feet placement, then to basic blocks and lunges.”
From there, they work on sequencing.
All of this is done without a sparring partner.
Once the basics are grasped then they bring in a partner and the actors can see how it all works together.
“Sequences of lunges and blocks are pieced together in slow motion, working on timing and foot placement. As the actors become more experienced, we speed up the sequence without adding any force. The force and momentum is added last,” she said.
Price said the cast includes two actors who have studied fencing and bring a level of know-how and realism to the battle sequences.
The cast of more than 35 children and adults are preparing the epic production with a large design crew creating authentic costuming, realistic props, and set pieces including the mystical wardrobe.
Narnia, the musical runs Fridays and Saturdays, April 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, April 19 and 26 at 2:30 p.m.
Audiences are encouraged to make note of the unusual time for the production.
Produced by special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois, tickets and reservations are available online at www.CNYArtsCenter.com or by calling 598-ARTS (2787).