2017 was a great mixture of different experiences for me as teacher, student, performer and fight director. It started off as a student in the glorious frosty surroundings of Banff, Canada at the Paddy Crean Workshop having the chance to learn some amazing stuff from some awesome people.
Back to the cold and dreich of Scotland, in February I got to play Mrs Hinzmann in the Scottish Zombie Christmas Musical Anna and the Apocalypse fulfilling a Walking Dead fan dream. I saw the film at a cast and crew showing in Glasgow in October and it’s wonderful but probably won’t hit the screens here till this Autumn but it’s a must-see movie for this year.
Students on the One Year Acting for Stage and Screen course at Acting Coach Scotland drama studio in Glasgow produced some excellent performances for their BASSC Fight Performance Test and showed their ability to choreograph their own fights as part of their training later in the year. It’s the only drama course in Scotland that includes a full stage combat certification course as part of its syllabus so the students are always really keen.
More teaching workshops in Spring and Summer – Unarmed, Rapier & Dagger in Glasgow, and then Sword & Shield at the British National Stage Combat Workshop in August.
As a student, I attended a Fight Directing workshop run by Moving Body Arts with the extraordinary American Fight Director J Allen Suddeth and another run by Theatrical Intimacy on directing concepts and creating performances for intimate scenes; a powerful and timely workshop in which I’m hoping to do a lot more training in 2018.
In September, life suddenly became very busy – I’ve taken over as Co-ordinator for the BASSC Teacher Training Programme so it’s my job to take the four advanced students through the theory and practical elements. It’s a year-long training programme and very tough so, if you’re being taught by a BASSC teacher, you know you’re being taught by someone who’s gone through the highest standard of stage combat training in the UK.
I was at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in October fight directing their production of The Wonderful World of Dissocia and had a chance to use some of the skills from the theatrical intimacy workshop.
In between travelling down to London for the teacher training and running a broadsword course back in Glasgow, I was asked to travel over to Ireland to be part of the stunt crew for Series 6 of Vikings! Who knew standing in a freezing cold, muddy field could be so much fun? A sword, a shield, lots of black eyeliner – that’s being a shield maiden ticked off my wish list, although always available for more. Many thanks to the amazing Richard Ryan, the founder of the BASSC, my first stage combat teacher and now Stunt Co-ordinator on Vikings, amongst many other things, for having me over.
Finally, I headed East, very East, to Shanghai in China to run swashbuckling classes at the Shanghai American School and fight direct their production of Blondel. I had great fun and best wishes to their teacher Simon Williams and all the cast and crew for success with the production next year.
Which brings us to 2018. So what’s in line for this year, so far?
Acting Coach Scotland’s new course starts next week so I’m looking forward to meeting the new batch of students.
Unarmed combat is going to be a theme for the first few months with unarmed workshops for the BA Acting Course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in March and another certification course for students on the RCS Masters Classical and Contemporary Text course around Easter. I’m hoping to re-schedule the certification course in Glasgow – The Broomhill Bash – in the late Spring.
The big thing that is coming up is that the BASSC will be 25 years old in 2018. I’m proud to have been a member for almost as long; I started my BASSC training in 1995 and it’s been a major part of my life ever since. I’ve been serving on its Executive Committee for the last nine years as Vice-President and Secretary and I was very honoured to be appointed President from 2018. It’s a big responsibility but we have a great Committee and we’re already preparing for our flagship workshop, The British National Stage Combat Workshop which will be held 13th – 25th August at Rose Bruford Drama School in Kent and I’ll be there helping to run it. We want to it to be our biggest and best. Every year we have students attending from abroad; an indication of how good the BASSC’s reputation is both in the UK and elsewhere. So, if you can’t make it to any Stage Fight Scotland courses, consider the BNSCW. There’s a basic workshop for beginners, an intermediate/advanced workshop for those who have passed unarmed and rapier & dagger, plus we have some other things planned especially for this year. There’s an accommodation package, you’ll be training with the best and you can help us celebrate our quarter century. I hope we’ll be having students training with us for many years to come.
There are other things in the pipeline which I can’t talk about yet but if nothing else I’m going to be very, very fit!
Best wishes for 2018 and Happy Fighting!