OSKALOOSA — Swords, knives and quarterstaffs are tools stage fighting choreographer Jason Tipsword uses on a daily basis and he brought his knowledge of those props to George Daily Auditorium Youth Theatre Camp members this past week.
Camp members prepared a “Hunger Games”-themed Showcase performance, called “Fallout,” Friday afternoon, and Tipsword instructed the students in the safe use of stage weapons Thursday and Friday.
“Safety is the big thing,” Tipsword said.
Professional actors will spend weeks learning stage combat techniques, the theatre camp students only had two days.
“We’re doing simple things,” he said. “Very simple techniques and choreography.”
Students learned about sword play, knife fighting and quarterstaff use, Tipsword said.
“They learn the techniques in a safe way,” he added.
Edged weapons such as knives and a Roman gladius are made of high-density rubber while the quarterstaff is made of wood, Tipsword said.
The simulated weapons are story-telling tools — whether you use them to tell a Shakespearean tale or a modern post-apocalyptic tale.
Tipsword, who is friends with Youth Theatre Director Andy McGuire, came to Oskaloosa this past year to teach Shakespearean stage combat. This year, it’s “Hunger Games” stage conflict.
“Shakespearean combat is combat that has existed for several hundred years,” Tipsword said. So, its styles are well-known, he added.
However, “Hunger Games”-style combat is like “showing up with a bag of tricks and seeing what comes out,” Tipsword said.
Tipsword has been teaching stage combat for many years.
“In 1998, I choreographed my first fight on stage,” he said. Tipsword has taught stage combat since 2001.
Tipsword spent three years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, National Stage Combat Workshop. He received his teaching certificate at the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has taught courses at the University of Iowa, Central College and Kirkwood Community College.