September 14, 2015
The Life Of A ‘One Day’ Stage Combat Director…
Ah, life as a One Day Facilitator. It’s a special title to hold and every morning I step into those shoes I relish at the thought at what could be in store for me. Today, I’m delivering one of my own bespoke workshops in a skill I have honed and developed personally for 20 years now, the art of stage combat. It may sounds mysterious and dangerous, but in truth it’s just another physical performance skill. But it’s one that manages to engage students from the very young to the much older.
As I make the long scenic drive up the country crossing the border into Scotland, I think over the fight sequences I’ve planned whilst listening to Michael Bublé on the radio. However, I know no matter how well I prepare, there’s always the chance it’ll end up changing in the moment. So much depends on the students’ abilities and enthusiasm.
I arrived at the school to a smiley welcome and a much-needed cup of tea, and straight away I’m given a flavour of the day ahead when I’m told how much of a buzz there has been around the young people about this One Day experience. Hushed conversations in the corridors and points in my direction give me the feel of a visiting dignitary, as I walk down to the hall.
“Are we going to be beating each other up, sir?”, one young lad asks me, as I’m just about to enter the hall. “Not exactly” I reply, “we’ll be learning techniques to make it look like we are, in a safe and controlled environment…”
“Oh sick, that’s what I thought” he throws over his shoulder as he runs off to registration. That’s often the first challenge I have with the most enthusiastic pupils – making them realise the day isn’t one big play fight.
As soon as the first session begins and I explain a little about what I do and why we learn these skills, the young people start to understand what the hour and a half will entail. I get them all standing and do a physical warm up. Then the session can begin in earnest.
“It’s all about working with each other, you can’t do this stuff on your own” I point out, “so you’ll be working in pairs all day. You have to help each other to make this discipline work.” The eyes start to dart around the room as partnerships are formed silently through a series of winks and points to each other in the space.
I ask for a volunteer to help me demonstrate the first move, and already I’m heartened to see the amount of enthusiastic arms that shoot up in the air. The pupil I pick wanders up towards me supported by cheers and whoops. As we break the move down and go through it slowly I can see everyone itching to get up and give it a go.
After lots of laughs as I show the things that can go wrong whilst performing this move, everyone jumps up and finds a space and the results are almost immediate. Everyone begins to see how this discipline works and they get good results very quickly, which gives an almost immediate sense of achievement. This continues all throughout the session and by the end every student has participated and to a high level of competency.
An hour and a half almost only scratches the surface of this skill but it’s about igniting pupils’ imaginations and showing just what they can achieve in such a short period of time. The hardest bit now comes, as I plead with them all not to give away too much to the students who have yet to come to me.
I am a One Day facilitator, and yet no One Day is ever the same…
Love, Callum Arnott x