Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Three Musketeers- Week Three: Characters, Scripts and Fencing!

Welcome back! It was week three with our wonderful Chameleons this morning and this week was all about the action inside the Three Musketeers. Namely, the sword fights. The Musketeers is the most action-packed show we have undertaken with the group and so presented an exciting challenge for us, as well as them. To help the chameleons get their heads about all of this sword stuff; we thought we would start by teaching them how to fence. Oh, and we gave out characters as well. So pretty exciting stuff.

First off we started with some classic drama games, but ones we haven't used with the group in a very long time. Zip, zap, boing made an appearance- a classic drama game wherein the group have to pass energy around a circle, but they can also send it backwards the way it came and fire it across, meaning everyone has to be paying attention in order not to be caught off guard. This game is probably old as drama itself and served as a cool intro to the session.

Next came splat, an old favourite. The group stand in a circle and someone stands in the middle. They point at someone and say splat, then the people either side have to turn and splat each other, while the middle person ducks down. It's a great game for getting everyone warmed up and is plenty of fun too!

Next we warmed everyone up for the physical theatre activities that we would be doing later. The game we played was called 'follow your nose.' In the game everyone has to pretend that they are being pulled by a string attached to the end of their nose, thinking about how this affects the way they move their bodies. The string moves around a lot, sometimes coming out of an elbow, knee, finger or even a tongue. The idea is that the group consider what the string does to the way they walk and how they can make it obvious where the string comes from to an audience, without speaking.

Once everyone was warmed up we launched into some fencing. Given that combat with the musketeers often involved rapiers and various fencing techniques, this seemed like a sensible approach to tackling all of the sword fights we have in the story. The group began by learning how to stand and move their feet, both of which are important in a sword fight with your rival. Next they were taught how to held their hands and sword. When they had that, we showed them several basic fencing moves that they could replicate; attacking, blocking, lunging and parrying.

We made a game out of it to help everyone remember the moves. It is the sword version of rock, paper, scissors. Standing in a circle, two players have to square off in a duel, and can only use the four movements that we showed them. The audience counts to three and both players must make a move, whoever wins scores a point. Blocking beats attack, lunging beats blocking, parrying beats lunging and attacking beats parrying. If both players attack or lunge, both receive a point. 

The group had a lot of fun playing and it was a great way to teach them about the rules of stage combat. The most important being that you are never allowed to hurt the other people you do it with. Stage combat is all about control and trust, everyone must trust one another and control what they do so that nobody gets hurt during a scene. The game is a lighthearted way of teaching this.

After the break we sat down and looked through the characters in the play. Each character was listed on a page and had a small description of who they were. It was fantastic seeing how much everyone remembered from the past two weeks. Following this everyone got into pairs and was tasked with creating a scene where D'Artagnan meets Athos and they fight; like in the play.

There were some fantastic scenes made by all of the teams and what was brilliant to see was that the groups had included some of the moves they had learned at the start of the session! Over the next few weeks we will be staging the fight scenes and be using these a lot more-so we're off to a great start.

And so another session comes to an end. We handed out scripts and characters before we were finished and for the most part everyone seems pleased with what they have been given. Over the remaining weeks things are bound to adapt and change but for now everyone is excited to get started; and so we shall. Next week we will begin work on our play- meeting the Musketeers and D'Artagnan as their adventure begins! It was a fantastic session and the group produced some brilliant work. For now here are a few snaps from the rehearsal!

SIDE NOTE: We are super excited to be attending the Northcott Theatre again this Friday to see 'The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon.' Both myself and Ben are thrilled that the chamaleons get to go and see more fantastic work there this term for their Arts Award.

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