New home provides new challenges for OSP choreographers

As Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park moves to its new home, the choreographers face new challenges.

Broken fingers, scratched eyelids, a broadsword to the head ” such is life in the realm of stage fighting. Creating the illusion of violence requires carefully choreographed routines in which actors portray vicious brawls and deadly duels without actually risking much more than the occasional bruise.

Shane McClure is a veteran in stage combat with Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, re-creating the Bard’s many iconic melees. The trick, according to McClure, is strengthening the audience’s suspension of disbelief, but without being too realistic.

With OSP’s new home at the outdoor Myriad Botanical Gardens’ Water Stage, where it moved last summer, McClure and other stage choreographers have to take extra precautions to keep the actors dry.

“At least there is no orchestra pit here with a 12-foot drop to fall into,” McClure said with a shrug as he looked out over the circular amphitheater stage, which is flanked on all sides by murky green water.

McClure said that he became interested in studying stage combat out of self-preservation. In a Houston Shakespeare festival, he was involved in an ill-fated “King Lear” production where everyone who fought onstage got hurt. His first stab at stage combat was a scene in “Romeo and Juliet,” and he has been choreographing fights ever since. He teaches stage combat at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and studied at the Society of American Fight Directors annual workshop. ” Charles Martin

Charles Martin

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