She met with the six boys in the club and their teacher Josh Gaffga to teach them the basic principles of stage combat, a technique in theatre that creates the illusion of physical combat while keeping performers safe from harm.
“The number one rule is always safety,” she began, “Your safety and the safety of everyone on stage with you.”
Samantha also reminded them that fight sequences often serve an important purpose during a play’s climactic scenes. “Stage combat should always look accurate, be interesting, and tell a story,” she said.
Next, the group pulled out mats and got to work learning an essential talent: how to fall down.
Samantha graduated from the ninth grade at Graland where she performed in shows like James and the Giant Peach
, Tom Jones
. After East High School she relocated to Northwestern University and began studying with a fight master while earning a degree in theater, graduating magna cum laude. She later moved to New York City and worked at New York University teaching stage combat classes. Samantha is an “actor combatant” who is certified with the Society of American Fight Directors
as well as internationally and says her niche skill set is becoming more valued in the theater world.
“I’m like a dance choreographer and I work with the level and skill of each group of actors to make them look successful,” Samantha explains.
“What I really value about my Graland education is that it taught me how to learn and I took that ability moving forward.” Coming back to Graland, Samantha was struck by how much some things have changed while others stayed the same. “There is still some of the same art on the walls,” she laughs.
“It was great to be here and give back something that means so much to me. Drama has been the most important thing in my life to becoming who I want to be.”
Eighth grader Greg Kintzele was paying close attention. He is interested in pursuing more theater roles and will be auditioning for The Tempest at Kent Denver next summer.
“I already knew a little about stage combat but this taught me new techniques,” he says. “I’m interested in learning more about fist fighting and sword fighting on stage.”
If Mr. Gaffga has any influence, we might see Samantha back in January when the Grade 4 begins rehearsing Annie. Stay tuned!