Onstage fighting requires choreography, expertise, and practice, practice, practice. For the last couple of months, The Hobbit director, Timothy Rhoades, and fight choreographers, Brett and Ashley Ihler, have brought their vision to The Center stage through hours of rehearsal with the cast. Rhoades felt that staging the fights was “a vital part of the story as the characters of the book and play are deeply affected by the battles in their journey.”
Rhoades added “the stage combat is an exciting and dynamic tool that helps the audience understand the characters.”
Stage fighting is the pinnacle of stage conflict and it can be traced to the earliest form of theater — the day’s hunt as it was reenacted around the camp fire. Stage combat is the ultimate example of conflict, and Conflict is the heart of drama. Stage combat is the zenith of drama because characters have to struggle for more than comfort, for more than luxury, but for their very lives.
From medieval jousting tournaments to stooge-like slapstick, from Punch and Judy to saloon brawls, the spectacle of stage combat has been a long honored tradition in the theater. This tradition is one that takes much study, great discipline and countless hours of rehearsal. The study includes the proper and safe techniques for the illusion of slaps, punches, kicks, throws.
With great concerns for safety, the skill of stage combat relies upon techniques used in martial arts, fencing and even dance. The Arts & Science Center’s production of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Hobbit, will be presented April 25, 26, 27, and 28. The production is sponsored by Pine Bluff National Bank and tickets are available at 536-3375, at The Center, 701 S. Main Street in Pine Bluff, or online at www.ArtsScienceCenter.org.