Fighting in class is not usually encouraged, but that definitely wasn’t the case during a recent 80-minute choreographed fighting workshop for Upper Canada College Grade 10 drama students.
Geoff Scovell — a 34-year-old actor, associate fight director at the Stratford Festival and stunt double with film and television credits including 12 Monkeys, Orphan Black, Pompeii and RoboCop — worked with boys taught by Heather Crawford. He’s no stranger to the school, as arts chair and theatre coordinator Judith Macdonell has invited him to share his expertise in the past.
Scovell taught boys how to handle a sword safely and introduced them to the basics of fight choreography. They learned basic positions and footwork, including en guarde, advance and retreat, and the ballestra lunge.
“He helps with anything that has a physical element to it that needs to be done safely, such as if there’s a sword involved or if somebody gets hit or if somebody gets put in a headlock,” says Crawford.
Scovell also helps with UCC’s co-curricular theatre program, coordinated by Dale Churchward, and the results will be seen in the sword work in this year’s production of The Tempest.
Crawford says Scovell is a good teacher who worked well with the boys in her class.
“They thought it was great. They wanted to get their hands on the swords but they also wanted to look like they know what they’re doing with the swords, so they listened really well to his instructions and were really working hard to hold their backs straight and not stick their butts out in doing all of the things he was showing them. They were keeping their sides turned to protect themselves and they were really getting the hang of it by the end of the workshop.”
And best of all, nobody got hurt.