Let’s talk about fighting.

Sunday evening is the last scene I’ll be doing for Misery, and it’s going to be outrageous. Due to safety reasons, the ending is altered slightly from the movie. But the end result is the same. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you if you’ve never read the book or seen the movie. I’m not that cruel.

But let’s talk about stage fighting, seriously. Below are a few rules I try to remember when going to a rehearsal for a scene. Do I always do all of them? No. Hence why I am no professional. But should I be doing these things? Yes, always.

Rule 1: Don’t assume anything, ever, about your partner(s). Do you want to incorporate something? Ask. Do you want to push your hand into your partner’s face while they’ve got you pinned to the ground? ASK. Good actors will say sure, let’s try it. But you must ask. Don’t be afraid to look stupid when asking for something. You could have a brilliant idea.

Rule 2: Communication is key. All that blocking that you just learned needs to be repeated over and over. It needs to be written down and discussed. Learning where you go, who you hit, and when, is paramount. You and your scene partner(s) need to know every single thing the other is doing. And when you’re in pain? Say something. When I did 22 Jump Street in class a month or so ago, I never told my scene partner that the way he grabbed my wrists hurt. Because of that, I had to suffer through bruises for a couple weeks. But if I had told him during rehearsal, we could have done a different move there, or we could have figured out an alternative way for him to grab me. But I never did. Talk to your scene partner, friends.

Rule 3: Take care of yourself. Of course, you need to make sure that injuries are prevented. But rules 1 and 2 help you do that. I’m talking about hygiene. Are you going to get very physically close to your partner(s)? Will they be near your face/upper body? Brush your teeth, use mouthwash, and re-apply deodorant. This sounds so simple and very dumb, but during my rehearsal today, for a moment I thought I could smell myself and was suddenly seriously hoping my scene partner couldn’t. Awkward.

Rule 4: When you’re there, be there. Sure, you’re at the rehearsal physically. Your body is present and supposedly ready to work. But where’s your head at, kid? Are you still thinking about that thing somebody said to you earlier? (I did this today, unfortunately.) Are you worrying about what’s going on later or tomorrow? Stop that. Stop it right now. Smash your face into your script and scream if it helps. Talk about the shit that’s going on in a couple sentences with a scene partner if they’re okay with it. Do not just bottle it up. That results in accidents, in mis-remembering what you’re supposed to be doing, and it just makes the rehearsal terrible. During the first few classes at Art’s Sake, you’re taught during the warm up to take all your problems and worries and imagine them in a balloon. Let that balloon float away to somewhere up high outside the building, and when you’re done with class, you can mentally call it back. I personally imagine a baby pink balloon (because I despise that color) and I let it get caught in a tree outside. I can always tell when I’ve forgotten to do that mental exercise.

Rule 5: Learn to trust. Remember, you’re going to fight someone, and between the two of you (or more), you have to make the audience believe that you are both hurting each other. Trust helps a lot. In my case, my partner is a guy. Initially, I was not down for getting physically close to him at all. I’m not big on being spontaneously touched and I don’t generally do it other people either. But in this final scene tomorrow, I had to get over it. I had to do what my stage combat coach told me to do. I had to let him get very close to me for a good portion of the scene. Was I uncomfortable? Yes. Terrified? Absolutely. But because I have made a significant effort to trust my scene partner, and hopefully he likewise, I know that he has no intention to actually hurt me.

Trust combined with the previous four rules are how we are going to literally and metaphorically kick serious ass tomorrow. This is one of those scenes that you can just feel when it goes right. I think it’ll go smashing.

If you’ve like to read past entries on my current experience in AI at Art’s Sake, please do! I suggest staring at the bottom and going up.

And just for you, that’s what she said…

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