Due to the dangerous nature of stage combat, we do not recommend using student fight choreographers, unless they have the proper certification. 'Basic' or 'Standard' certification from a stage choreography institution does not qualify an individual to teach or choreograph it to others, only to do it themselves. Get in touch with the President or the Drama Officer if you need help getting in touch with a professional.
A fight director is responsible for the safe and dramatically effective staging of fight scenes. They are thus responsible for choreographing fights, and teaching actors stage combat techniques and choreography. This can be as simple as an onstage fall, or an onstage slap, and as complicated as time, resources, abilities, and experience permit. The fight director will design fights as to ensure the safety of everyone onstage and in the audience, and to not injure the actors when repeated over the course of the rehearsal process and the run.
Fight sequences need to be designed in a way which best contributes to the overall story and reflects the characters and the situation. An unarmed brawl in a rough tavern should have a very different feel to it than a rapier and dagger fight between two Elizabethan gentlemen. A character who has never trained in self-defense and is driven to lash out by high emotions should attack in a very different way to a character who has trained in martial arts since childhood. Melissa Hillman (Artistic Director, Impact Theatre), on what a fight director does and why you need one:
Because of the inherently risky nature of stage combat, proper training is essential. Professional fight directors are usually certified as such through one of a number of international organizations: the British Association of Dramatic Combat (BADC), the British Association of Stage and Screen Combat (BASSC), the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD), Fight Directors Canada (FDC), the Nordic Stage Fight Society (NSFS), and the Society of Australian Fight Directors (SAFDi) are some of the most well-known.
Independent Drama (London) - Offers regular intensives, weekend workshops, and weekly classes. Their instructors are certified through the BADC or BASSC or both, and they have run workshops for a number of student productions in Oxford
RC Annie (London) - Another reputable London training centre, offering BADC courses, as well as a variety of high-quality workshops and masterclasses. They also hire weapons.
British Academy of Dramatic Combat - Includes details of upcoming BADC courses and workshops in the UK. There is also more information about the different levels of certification.
British Academy of Stage and Screen Combat - Includes details of upcoming BASSC courses and workshops in the UK. There is also more information about the different levels of certification.
Weapons hire and purchase:
Weapons, particularly blades, appropriate for use in stage combat are difficult to come by, and often the fight director will have the right contacts (or own the right equipment!) to be able to provide weapons for a production that they are working on. If weapons are procured elsewhere (for example, by a properties designer or stage manager) the fight director should inspect them before use to determine their suitability, and has the authority to veto any that are unsuitable. Some resources for finding appropriate stage weapons are given below.
RC Annie (London) - As well as offering workshops and masterclasses RC Annie also hire stage weapons to theatrical and film productions
The Knight Shop - The majority of their blades are made of stainless steel, and only suitable for display, but they do have a selection of swords designed for stage combat.