Choreographing the fights in Brave New World

Choreographing the fights in Brave New World

2 September 2015

by Neale Birch

What does a fight look like in a 'perfect' world set hundreds of years in the future?  Associate producer Neale Birch writes on the role of stage and screen combat specialists Rc-Annie in rehearsals. 

Ruth and RachelAbout the Fight Directors

Rc-Annie is the UK's leading Dramatic Action company established in 2005 by Ruth Cooper-Brown and Rachel Cristi Bown-Williams.

After learning Karate from the age of ten, Rachel trained as an actress at Rose Bruford College where she discovered stage combat and began her journey to becoming a British Academy of Dramatic Combat (BADC) qualified teacher. Ruth worked in historical entertainment when she was 21 and also trained as an actress. She was drawn to street theatre, illusion and circus, culminating in running a small entertainment company. 

Choreographing the fights 
One of the challenges they faced choreographing the fights for Brave New World was to create a fighting style for a generation of people who do not understand pain or anger, they have never before indulged in violent acts, only in acts of pleasure. Director James Darce is keen to make the violent elements in the play, very aggressive and shocking.

Whips being used in Brave New World

During their first session, they worked with the cast on some techniques that help promote scrappy and messy fighting styles. Helping them to remain sensitive to each other’s physical impulses when working full intention, enabling them to keep each other safe but stay true to the emotion of the piece. This is probably one of the more difficult concepts to grasp when performing fights for stage - how to create the illusion of acting, punching, pulling and grappling with someone, while you are often doing the exact opposite, reversing the energy in the opposite direction.   

The rehearsal process for Brave New World requires them to explore all the scenes that contain violence and choreograph the action for each piece. They are working very closely with Director James Dacre, writer Dawn King, Movement Director Eddie Kay and Sound Designer George Dennis on these scenes, with all six of them collaborating and sculpting the scene.

RC-Annie has a number of associate teachers and also provides high-quality training and BADC certification. They also tailor-make fake blood for Theatre and Film and have available for hire a variety of safe theatrical weaponry - from Knives and Swords to replica rifles and blank firing handguns. In the case of Brave New World, Ruth and Rachel brought in a variety of whips and trained the cast in self-flagellation ... Intrigued? Well, you will have to come and see the play to see the results.

Brave New World premieres at Royal and Derngate, Northampton, where it runs from 4 to 26 September 2015. It then tours to Edinburgh, Blackpool, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Bradford where it concludes on 5 December.