About a year ago I fell into the wonderful world of Stage Combat. A year ago I met DC Wright and Melissa Freilich both of which told me that I would be attending The Central Illinois Stage Combat Workshop the following year. At that time, I wanted to attend but didn't really see how it was going to happen. I was planning on moving by now, as well as having a fight internship or summer stock job this summer. I went on my journey this year and even when I ran into DC at the Winter Wonderland Stage Combat Workshop I still didn't think I would be able to attend. Funny thing is that first day of that workshop DC comes running up to me with a business card about CisCo and a few days later I would when the raffle prize of a discounted tuition. DC handed it to me and told me it was a sign. It wouldn't be until April that I fully made the decision to continue my combative training and attend both CisCo and Nationals this summer.
I arrived excited to train, and excited to see old friends. I mean I was getting ready to play with swords for three weeks, of course I was excited. I expected to grow and work towards my goals, but i didn't expect this workshop to influence me as much as it has. I wanted to wait to write about the experience until it was completely done. So here is my recap:
Week One: Week one was filled with the normal workshop dizziness and playfulness that it always is. We started out learning Single Rapier from Zack Meyer for Dueling Arts International, our first week of training for Quarterstaff and Knife( led by DC and Amie Root) with the Society of American Fight Directors and our Theatrical Firearms Safety course. It was a long hard week, but each day we all collectively woke up early each day eager and ready for the adventure. It was very apparent early on that this was a group of people with a lot of enthusiasm as well as a lot of compassion for the people they we were working with. We learned Akito and Tai Chi movement techniques to build an even stronger level of partnering and connection with each other. Each day of playing, training, and eating together feeling like a summer camp adventure. We all were even singing "Hamilton" at breakfast each morning. My body was sore, and covered in tiger balm, but each day was a new and exiting one filled with learning. At the end of the week we recorded our "Zoro" fight scenes for our level one Single Rapier test with DAI and tested for our Theatrical Firearms Safety course. And we celebrated our evening at Chicks on the square.
Week Two: Week Two started out a little rough. The previous weekend I had a severe panic attack that led to getting medical treatment. That plus not feeling good about my DAI single rapier test ( I was beating myself up for my acting and my stance, and everyone knows I am my biggest critic.) I was starting to doubt a few of my goals when it came to the fight community. However, my teachers and fellow classmates unknowingly re boost my confidence over the entire week, and by the end I was wanting those goals more than when I arrived at CisCo. Week Two Dan Klarer took over our DAI classes, and started teaching us Rapier and Dagger. We also started finalizing our choreography for Knife and Quarterstaff. We also got to experience and amazing master class with Orion Couling about Bartitsu. And yes that is the martial arts you have read about in Sherlock Holmes. I have to say his tiny workshop class that one evening inspired me so much as an actor combatant. It was amazing to hear him talk. And with his and Amie's help I finally was finding my stance, and what it meant to work form mother earth in my fighting. Something I will forever be grateful for. We ended this beautiful week playing Murder, testing for DAI level one Rapier and Dagger (where yours truly got to play Benvolio) and picking out our scenes with our newly found out partners for our SAFD tests.
Week Three: Week Three was a week of crazy and scary stress as well as play. It was a week of prep for our SAFD Knife and Quarterstaff tests, as well as the week Scott Russell taught us a fun class on Single Sword through DAI. So parts of our mornings were spent learning about stock phrases from old movies, and channeling Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone; while our afternoons and evenings were filled with rigorous rehearsal and character development. We did a Mock adjudication mid week and got notes on everything from our perrys and targets to our acting and our slate. It was both terrifying and helpful. I was extremely thankful for the patience of both my teachers and my scene partners as we worked on these scenes and fights. Without them I wouldn't have gotten through the week or those tests. Friday we tested and I officially can say that I am now "renewed" in knife and that I received a recommended pass in Quarterstaff. I couldn't have done it without the amazing people I was partnered with.
Before I came to CisCo I had plans of becoming an Advanced Actor Combatant with SAFD and hopefully fight directing one day. I wanted to still primarily act. And I was going to look back at grad school in a couple of years. After talking to these people and going through this process, I realize more and more how much I want to do this more than anything. I hit a point of highly doubting myself, especially when comparing myself to other fighters in the SAFD that I knew. But then I realized, that if it's what I want, it is attainable. A recommended pass is proof of that. It just takes the right training and discipline to get there. This process also solidified my want to go to Grad School and to eventually teach at the university level or with a theatre company as well as fight direct/act. Will I apply again next year? I'm not sure yet. Do I know what I want to spend my time focusing on? Yes. All I know is after this workshop I am more inspired and driven than I have been in awhile. And whatever journey I take to get there is worth it. So thank you for the fun, for the stress, for the skills, the stress, the encouragement, the quotes, and the ever expanding fight family. My tribe I love you.