Raise swords and funds for combat armory


File Photo/The Lion's Roar

Tyler Meyer, a performer, uses sword during the play “Strawberry, Guns, and Milk” performed at the Vonnie Borden Theatre on Sept. 20, 2017.

The university theatre program organized a fundraiser on Oct. 9 to build a stage combat armory.

Benjamin Norman, technical director and lighting designer, looks over staged combat during theatre shows. Norman explained what stage combat is.

“Anytime you see a punch thrown or a knife pulled out on a stage, movie or film, it has been choreographed by fight directors and stunt coordinators,” explained Norman. “Of course, none of this is real, but we want to make it look as real as possible because it helps with the storytelling. Stage combat is the study of that.”

Norman explained that it is beneficial for students to have experience in stage combat.

“In order to help our students become better stage combatants, storytellers and actors, we are trying to create an armory to allow our students to learn different weapon systems and styles,” said Norman. “This makes them what we like to call ‘real-world ready.’ Our actors will leave here with experience that allows them to be cast immediately because a stunt coordinator doesn’t have to spend time teaching them how to use a sword. We want them ready for work.”

Norman believes learning more about stage combat will also help students with getting employment in the future. Properly developed and performed staged fights are also very important to the stories produced in the theatre.

“It teaches our performers really high stakes,” expressed Norman. “Whenever an argument gets to the point to where it becomes physical, the stakes are really high. Being able to show this well helps the story. What’s more important is how we build up to a fight rather than the fight itself. Stage combat is all about how to give the illusion that you’re about to hit someone.”

The fundraiser was targeted towards an armory to overall push our theatre forward.

The technical director was overjoyed by the results of the fundraiser.

“The fundraiser went brilliantly,” said Norman. “We doubled my financial goal of 20 donors and $1000. We ended up getting 33 donors and $2135. We are very excited that we are officially going to be able to buy 12 steel rapiers and 12 steel daggers. This allows us to teach two different weapon systems.”

Norman explained how the theatre progressing is useful for students as well as the community.

“The ultimate goal being to train these students to where local arts communities can either come to us, or we can go to them, and we’ll teach the how to use the weapons through workshops,” informed Norman. “Mainly because we want to keep people safe, but we also want to say ‘Look at the arts we do here at Southeastern. Look at what we do, and you can be a part of it.’ At the end of the day, it’s really about giving back to the community.”

Fight Club SLU is an organization that gives students an opportunity to participate in activities to learn techniques of stage combat and is currently in the midst of becoming official.

Norman emphasized that this is an opportunity open to just about everybody.

“Anybody is welcome to come to play and learn something new and interesting,” said Norman. “It’s a way for students to engage with the arts in a different way, by being up and moving with other goofy people rather than sitting around and just watching.”

Visit the Southeastern Louisiana Foundation site to support the organization through a donation.