I was recently asked to help out with a student-directed production of “The Nether” at Cornell. There aren’t any full-on “fights,” but the director recognized that they would benefit from assistance with a lift and some brief moments of physical aggression between the characters. The show is challenging, touching on themes of abuse and manipulation in ways that make it extra important for the actors to trust each other. It’s a good sign when a young director already recognizes the need for specialist assistance, and he allocated sufficient time that we were able to discuss multiple options that might make sense and find particular techniques that not only kept the actors safe, but also revealed something about the characters. It also occurred to me how much my own approach to choreography has evolved, from training the actors to execute that I found aesthetically appealing or martially logical to helping them perform as physical actors in a scene. We spent nearly as much time talking about why the characters shift from talking to laying hands on each other as we did rehearsing the particular techniques they were to perform.
If you’re local, come see the show! It runs next from March 12-14th.