Stage Combat Plays Key Role In “She Kills Monsters”

She Kills Monsters
Rachel Darden and Zachariah Tkachyk

Stage combat plays a prominent role in “She Kills Monsters,” which is based on the classic game “Dungeons and Dragons.” To the audience, the fight scenes may look chaotic and unorganized, but there’s nothing chaotic about them; every action is deliberate and rigorously rehearsed. Jake Guinn, our Fight Choreographer tells us all about it here.

How many hours did you rehearse the fight scenes?

We spent two weeks specifically on the fight choreography. The entire rehearsal block was dedicated to teaching technique and building the story moments that you’ll see in the show.

What is the fighting style in the show?

The show switches styles a few times actually! I worked to give each character their own unique fighting style based on real world martial arts. Tilly and Agnes take inspiration from Japanese katana work (even though they use European looking weapons); Lillith draws inspiration from Filipino Martial Arts; Kaliope uses techniques from English quarterstaff; and Orcus makes use of pro-wrestling techniques.

Why is it important to choreograph these fights?

Well, it definitely looks better when it’s choreographed! First and foremost, however, is actor safety. The techniques we use in fight choreography keep performers safe while they are performing potentially dangerous moments. Even with foam weapons like we use in the show, having good choreography means that our actors don’t run the risk of accidentally poking someone’s eye or losing their weapon into the audience.

What does rehearsal speed mean and why is it important?

Rehearsal speed means that we’re running our choreography at half speed. I am a big fan of the phrase “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” As with any skill, it’s important to practice it slowly first so that you can get the timing of the movements into your body. And once all that settles in, we can start picking up the speed to get more dynamic action, but we can’t go fast until we can go slow.

How long have you been involved in fight choreography?

I actually grew up doing fight choreography. I am a second generation fight choreographer and Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors having learned from my father while I was young. It’s been 19 years since my first foray into performing fights.

Jake GuinnJake Guinn

(Fight Choreographer) is a freelance Producer, Director, and Writer for clients that include WebMD, The CDC, and the Cherokee Historical Association. He produces original and adaptive work for theatre and film through his home company, Havoc Productions LLC. Choreographer credits include Feld Entertainment, Actor’s Theatre of Louisiville, Cincinnati Playhouse, Cincinnati Opera, Synchronicity Theatre.