So I thought I’d put my professorial brain forth to add some book reviews and literary musings here on NiB. And what better book to begin with than my own? (what?)

It all started back in ’04 or ’05 when my husband demanded I write a book about Stage Combat, a field I’d been active in for many years. I waffled for a while, but then the more I looked at other books on the subject, the more I realized there wasn’t a really basic how-to book that covered the fundamentals. I mean, you’ve got Maestro Hobbs’ book, but that one is more a memoir and general observation-and-advice book. Maestro Girard’s book is extremely detailed and well-researched, but it’s only about swordplay, and doesn’t hit on the unarmed stage combat techniques that are much more commonly found in most theatre. So I thought, why not make an easy-to-follow basic manual, that a high school or small community theatre can use (hopefully along with an experienced professional to guide them; but as a last resort, at least if they reference the book, they may stay safer than not having anything).

In ’05 I began the Metro State College of Denver’s stage combat program–it’s still a rare occurrence in college, the stage combat classes in an undergraduate theatre department. The cool thing was, by teaching class in ’05 and also getting a book contract at the same time, I got to use that first population of students as models for the photos in the book!

Prof. Jenn and the 2007 MSCD stage combat class

Two odd anecdotes re: the book: 1) in a book signing event in 2007, a large group of students choreographed a bar brawl, to break out at a certain point inmy talk (it took place in a coffee shop). The fake fight was to break out when one student actor was to feign rage at my assertion that professional wrestling is staged much like theatrical combat. He was to shout his outrage and then the fight would break out. Well, one of the baristas (apparently missed the fact that we had been rehearsing an hour before the show) approached the student actor, and asked him to please calm down or he’d have to kick him out. The look on the actor’s face as he thought he was going to be kicked out of his own performance was priceless!  2) I got the address for Allworth Press from a rejection letter–I promptly wrote and they accepted my query. Best rejection letter ever! My editor emailed me saying her office-mates thought she was “mad” b/c she was found often, with writing and cleaning implements, trying out the many techniques I describe in the book. I can just see her, trying the staff twirl with a broom!

Well, now I’ve almost sold enough to cover my advance, and I’m just beginning brainstorming the sequel. I have a few ideas–what would you like to read about in this field?   ~Prof. Jenn

Stage Combat–Fisticuffs, Stunts, and Swordplay for Theatre and Film by me!