One of the things that makes Family Stories completely different from any previous Whistler production is the sheer level of physical combat required. About 2/3 of the 11 scenes in the play feature at least one instance of violence, and many of those require extended complex or extended sequences. So for the first time ever, we have a fight choreographer. Actually two of them.
Meron is the primary choreographer. In addition to being a strong and interesting playwright – you might remember seeing his work when it was featured in our December Whistler Wednesday event – he has been working around town with a variety of theatre companies to help make their combat better and safer. I think I lured him into this project just with the sheer challenge of it: wild, crazy and challenging acts of violence performed in the round (making it harder to create the illusion) with the audience literally a foot away.
Mark is assisting Meron, and the two of them are wonderful to watch in rehearsal. They are working as a tag team – one will develop the combat to a certain level and then the other will dive in to make it just that much more twisted.
As we move through the play, we’ve been marking the moments where we need to have them come in and adjust things for us – sometimes it is as simple as having Meron tell the actor to tuck their chin to hide how the choke is going to be performed, and sometimes it is as complex as us showing them as extended sequence that we need made more intricate, and them composing on the fly.
I really enjoy this way of working – rather than having all the combat choreographed before the actors even enter the room, all of the movement is building out of what they are already doing – what their natural instincts are. This is the way I block shows in general, so it is wonderful to be able to carry it through into the rest of the process.
And, incidentally, it is really fun to figure this stuff out!