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Fire Stunt Highlights Stage Combat Workshop

By Rachel Judy

May 17, 2012

Stunt performer Tim Bell is set on fire as part of a workshop demonstration.

Stunt performer and guest instructor Tim Bell is set on fire as part of a workshop demonstration. Photo by Jared Beasley

Fire, guns, swordplay and fistfights are all elements of any good performance on stage or screen. Everyone has seen them, but few can master them. This is the purpose behind the Virginia Beach Bash, an annual stage combat workshop hosted by Regent University.

The ninth annual Virginia Beach Bash was held March 24-25, on Regent's campus in Virginia Beach, Va. Classes were offered at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels for 72 participants, and included instruction in a wide spectrum of styles and weaponry. In addition to offering a workshop sanctioned by the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD), the Bash also provides filmmakers with the opportunity to produce, film and edit action sequences. Students were able to coordinate with a director and stunt coordinator to create their own fight scenes. They then submitted the edited sequences to the actors for review.

"Whether you're an actor who wants a leg-up on the next actor by being able to handle yourself in a fight, or you're a filmmaker who wants to arrive in Los Angeles or New York with a reel featuring action sequences you've shot this is the workshop for you," explained Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland, the Bash's organizer and a professor in Regent's School of Communication & the Arts.

Hill-Kirkland organized this workshop to provide students the opportunity to learn the effective portrayal of violence in front of and behind the camera. Professor Gregg Lloyd, from the Theatre Department at Christopher Newport University, served as assistant coordinator.

While many Regent students attend, it also attracts actors from various theatre companies around the state of Virginia.

One of the highlights of this year's workshop was the opportunity for students to create the illusion of a car accident featuring stunt performer and guest instructor Tim Bell being set on fire. Besides providing a first-hand look at how to set up and safely conduct such a stunt, the "accident" was filmed by Regent cinema-television students under the direction of guest instructor Richard Clabaugh who then edited the sequence for viewing on Sunday. The stunt was coordinated by stunt coordinator, Dale Girard.

Other featured workshop instructors included SAFD fightmasters Richard Ryan (Troy, The Dark Knight, Stardust, and Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Michael Chin and Scot Mann.

"The Virginia Beach Bash features some of the best fight direction talent in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom," Hill-Kirkland explained. "Over this two-day intensive workshop, students had the opportunity to study stage and film combat techniques with some of the best talent in the business and the academy."

The Virginia Beach Bash started nine years ago as an instructional workshop solely for actors and actresses to develop sword-fighting skills in front of the camera, but has since expanded to include the cinema-television track.

Learn more about Regent's theatre arts department.

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