I won’t attempt to build any tension: we all passed. We’d spent all the classes in the third and final term learning and then practicing a set of routines that we’d use in the exam: three “phrases” of unarmed combat and four of rapier and dagger action. Each phrase featured several attacks and defences by both the participants, and these sequences were all shoe-horned into a scene from an existing play or film. The scene didn’t have to fit the weapons — one pair’s swordfight seemed to take place in a launderette — but it provided a dramatic context and characters for the fight: we weren’t marked solely on the technical quality of our fighting, but on how well we integrated it into the progression of a believable scene.
After two terms of learning a lot of steps and moves, doing something different each week, it was satisfying to spend a whole term on the same set of sequences. Although it took a long time to learn them well, it felt good to be able to perform them confidently and, hopefully, realistically. In case you’re wondering, Mark and I did a scene from The Duellists which I really must watch sometime.
After the test, the examiner called each pair back to give the result and some feedback (and, if you’re unlucky, ask you to do some bits of your sequence again). I must admit, I’m still annoyed with myself about some of our feedback: that the characters, particularly mine, didn’t really show much of a build in their anger over the course of the scene, which they should have. I knew this, and know it’s something I could do if I tried. But we’d concentrated so hard on geting the fights right that I hadn’t given much thought to the actual acting. Ah well.
I’m not sure if I’ll carry on and do another course next academic year (although they do promise a “swashbuckling” class…). It was fun, and a handy skill for the CV, but I’m quite relieved the course is over. I’m ready for a break. Maybe in a few weeks, when I’ve also come down from LISPA finishing for good, I’ll be ready for a bit more action.
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