Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Monday, July 30, 2012

Swordplay in Shakespeare

Courtesy:  Long Beach Shakespeare Company
Since fencing is the sport of the day at the Olympics, I was reminded of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 when, as part of an accompanying cultural festival that included lots of Shakespeare plays (Derek Jacobi in Much Ado About Nothing, a French version of Henry V, an Italian version of The Tempest), actor Anthony De Longis and a group of actors provided a fabulous performance of swordsmanship that was like a bladed weapon version of Cirque du Soleil.  I can't remember what it was called--I want to say "Circle of Steel" but if you Google that, all that comes up is a Gordon Lightfoot song.
One of Shakespeare's contemporaries in London was a sword master named George Silver.  Silver was noted as a master teacher but in addition to the sword, he was also fond of the quarterstaff. By Shakespeare's time, fencing was a sport and no longer the deadly martial art it had been in previous centuries when it was used to settle judicial quarrels and all the fights were to the death.
There are a lot of places that teach fencing and stage combat but it's harder to find schools that specialize in historical western martial arts. In the Los Angeles area, there's the Academy of Arms. 

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