What is Dramatic Combat?
Dramatic combat is the performance of violence or physical conflict using safe and effective techniques to create the illusion of reality on stage or screen. Whether the violence is a modern day street fight, an Elizabethan duel or a full raging battle scene the use of dramatic combat techniques is essential in order to create the illusion of reality with safety.
The performing arts are very physical and audiences are excited by, even demand, ‘realism’, or at least the illusion of reality, in theatre, television and film. Dramatic combat should therefore form part of an actor’s professional set of skills since even a simple move like a slap in the face must be carefully planned and executed to avoid discomfort and pain. In more complex sequences, for example those involving swords, falls and even flying, it is vital that performers have the appropriate skills and as William Hobbs, who was the fight director at the National Theatre for Laurence Olivier, points out:
“One cannot make rules regarding creativity,
but only regarding technique and safety”
If technique and safety are the domain of dramatic combat training, it is the creativity with which they are put to use that falls to the Fight Director.