Fight night at Teatro!

Ooohh, this gurl’s ’bout to git it!!!

Just joking.  This is a picture of Carla our Fight Coordinator showing us how to pull hair.

On Tuesday night, Carla Pantoja, certified stage combat instructor with Dueling Arts of San Francisco, one of 6 instructors in the Bay Area if memory serves, stopped by rehearsal to teach the cast some of the basics of stage combat, and to work with the roles that have to actually use it in the show.  There’s people being shot and kids fighting, so she gave us a lesson in how to not hurt yourself.  Which of course, is a good thing.  No one ever wants to get socked in the junk!  I should know, speaking from experience.  Ouch! Or punched in the head! Again, experience.  But there’s something in that reckless abandon that I love.  Carla would slap my face if she heard me say that!  Luckily, all those years of watching wrestling with my little brother paid off.

The first thing that Carla showed us was how to fall.  First there’s the Sit-Fall.  For this you step back onto one foot and as you do, you lower your body like you are squatting backward.  NOTE: Never place your hands behind you!!!  You are only inviting injury to your wrists, hands, elbows or shoulders. Hold your hands out in front of you.  (Don’t worry, the motion happens so fast no one really notices.) Once you are as low as you can get, shift so you can sit on the cheek that is on the same side as your extended leg.  Next you roll your spine onto the floor with you head being the last thing to unroll.  You have two options you can do with your hands and arms. Option one: spread them out like wings and let them fall with the palms facing the ground.  Or option 2: After unrolling your head, swing your arms overhead making sure to keep your hands inline with your arms so that your wrist doesn’t slam into the ground and shatter into a buncha little pieces.

She switched it up so we learned to fall to the side and to fall forward as well.  Those take a lot more description and have a little different technique, so I think it would be best not to try and write that out.  Maybe, she’ll give us a refresher course when we get closer to show time, and I will take footage of some of that. If she lets me.

Next came a brief tutorial in punches. Thanks to my Tae-Bo type work out videos, I knew what the different punches were.  Hey, hey!!  What was getting me stuck was timing the slap to the punch for effect.  There’s a little hit called a knap that an actor does to give the sound that the punch landed.  The knap can be done by clapping one’s hands, slapping one’s chest or thigh, or anywhere else where the audience can’t see it happening.

I thought we would move on to kicking and then contracting your body to simulate impacts, but that would have taken another day’s worth of work, and we had some fight scenes to get blocked.  She did speak to us about gun use, because several people get shot in the show, so that was really informative.  I wish I would have known that for West Side Story! Luckily, Tony never actually got accidentally injured.  In hindsight, that’s a pretty scary thing to consider.

We learned a heap load of stuff, like slapping someone in the back of the head, various pushes as well as what’s above, and in the video that follows.  It was a great night!

I did take footage, and I hope no one in the video is either offended or angry about me using it.  It isn’t with the intent to make a mockery of rehearsals, but to show what a great group of people I am honored to be working with.  To laugh it up now, because as we get further in the play, we start to work with things like murder and hate which can take a lot out of someone.  Especially if they have to stay in that mentality for long periods of time.  Again it’s with respect for these people that I share with all of you this zany crew.

Yippee!! (insert bell-kick here)

The rehearsals for the show are going swimmingly!  Most of Act 1 is staged and we are just building momentum.  I can’t wait for the day when I can direct my own shows.  Watching people like Katie O’Bryon and Elisa Alvarado adjust a scene with actors is so fascinating to me. Helping to create little moments within the scenes is a difficult job, but they make it seem so effortless and they include the actors when working the kinks out.

Elisa works with Ultima and the Marez familia

Tonight’s rehearsal was just me and the two that play my parents, Jay Vera and Melinna Bobadilla.  While there were a lot of laughs, we quickly worked through one of the last scenes in Act 1, and talked through some of the counterintuitive moments that we were coming up against.  One of the first things that we needed to address was that the size of the stage didn’t feel proportionate to the home setting.  In normal circumstances, the solution would be to just move things around.  Easy Peasy!  Unfortunately, thanks to working on a raked stage, moving a set piece designed to stand on a slanted plain won’t stand the same way on a flat surface.

Snapshot of the model set.

This is what the empty stage would look like.  The Mexican Heritage Theatre is, from my understanding, HUGE!  I get giddy just thinking about it.  It is said to have incredible wing space and decent fly space.  That’s a luxury that not many theatres have.  But back to the work.  After making some repositioning decisions, we charged into the scene.  Our actor playing Young Tony, Lalo Lopez, was unavailable this evening, but it was a great challenge to try and feel out something for him for the scene.  I don’t mean that in a mean or snarky way.  I truly did enjoy the challenge of using sense memory to try and put some emotional weight in the lines while not having a partner to work off of during some of the scene sections.  That in turn, gives something for the other actors to work with as well.

We worked all over the scene, and I was startled with the alarm went off saying that rehearsal time is over.   I really wanted to at least run the ending of the scene and the exit at least one more time for the traffic pattern and for piece of mind knowing that I have it stuck in my noggin.  Alas, with rehearsal over, we were dismissed.  So after saying goodbyes and whatnot, I bounded out into the chilly night air with a lightness in my feet.

Tomorrow night is a stage combat or stage fighting workshop. Woo to the hoo!  I am wicked excited for it.  I love fight workshops! Love them.  Of course, I’ve only taken the one with the karate teacher guy for West Side Story.  That was awesome!!!  Of course it didn’t hurt that I had the amazing Tony Dicorti as my fight partner.  I am wondering how this is going to turn out.  Only because the way I interpreted the script, there wasn’t a scene in it that called for much fighting.  Maybe some shoving, but I don’t recall any fighting.

Until tomorrow…