Swordplay on shakespeares stage

In the American state of Massachusetts, some teenagers who break the law are sentenced -- to Shakespeare. They have less than two weeks to go before they must perform the play for the Shakespeare in the Courts program.

Swordplay on shakespeares stage

The display, which took place outside in the sunshine, consisted of three very skilled and very tall men in protective Elizabethan-style clothing demonstrating a variety of Elizabethan swordplay techniques. The combatants approached each other slowly, and with caution, which makes a great deal of sense since both are holding potentially lethal weapons.

The footwork was steady, no sudden Errol Flynn leaps forward. Balance is very important, since in a serious sword-fight, tripping over a clump of grass is liable to offer an opponent an easy victory. Initially the group demonstrated some defensive practise exercises, which when combined together formed a sort of martial arts dance.

Less like fighting, more like balletic fencing. Much to my surprise hands formed a large part of the defence; thrusting at an opponent with the sword in one hand, using the other hand to block their blade. According to the lead swordsman, in Elizabethan England duelling often occurred without gloves or any protective clothing, and it is impossible to imagine any gentleman walking away unscathed after such an encounter.

From simple defensive exercises, the display moved on to double-weapon combat, in which each man fought with a sword and a dagger. The combination of the sword and the dagger together was compelling, and as the impressive display picked up pace, the air was filled with the authentic clink and whoosh as dagger met dagger and blades cut the air.

Finally came the spears. The most dangerous of the weapons on display; longer than a sword, but with the added advantage of maintaining considerable distance between opponents, which puts the man armed only with a sword or dagger at a distinct disadvantage. Spears were almost certainly used in serious fights to the death and armed combat.

Swordplay on shakespeares stage

The elegant swords meanwhile would often be used in duelling, which has a long and complex history and was used to settle disputes and recover honour. In fact quite the opposite.

The very fact a man elected to duel demonstrated his bravery. Duelling to the death was also surprisingly uncommon. In fact it was rare for a man to be killed in a duel, although several sensational duels did end in death. After the display we were invited to handle cautiously the replica Elizabethan swords.

Weighing a few kilos each, they were much heavier than they appeared; I was barely able to lift a sword off the ground, let alone wield it over my head. The dagger was easier to manage, shorter, obviously, and less heavy.

It had a rounded end and a hefty hilt, and dangling it at my side I tried to imagine what it must have been like to have something of that weight permanently suspended from a belt.

Swordplay on shakespeares stage

The larger sword would have been impossible to wear casually, and even in a hilt it would have been considerably dangerous and impractical. Actors like Shakespeare would also have handled these weapons, whether on the stage, or to protect themselves on the mean streets of London.

Ben Jonson killed the actor Gabriel Spenser in a duel, and perhaps Shakespeare walked along bankside to the Globe with a dagger clinking at his side.Court Ladies-in-Waiting: Christine Chandler, Cleone Duncan, Nancy Kerr, Elizabeth Mawson, Maida Rogerson Moonbeams: Sheila McCarthy, Mary-Ann Spiller, Mary Trainor Jul 12,  · This theatrical adaptation by John Chambers of the Alexandre Dumas novel provides plenty of opportunities for the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company actors to run around on an outdoor stage at.

Methods and Practice of Elizabethan Swordplay. Introduction Craig Turner, Tony Soper, or stage direction in Shakespeare, have been surprisingly mute about such open-ended notations as "they fight," demonstrating, in the words ofM.

I. Finley, that the study of physical activity is "perhaps the most remarkable of all existing academic . A few weeks ago Sonia Massai headed a panel entitled Global Shakespeares. It’s swordplay, though, that is most in evidence in Shakespeare’s works. in the lead. This was a tricky play to direct, with the stirring wartime Olivier film fresh in people’s memory.

No stage version was going to be able to compete, and Green wisely took a.

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Summary/Reviews: Shakespeare's restless world /