About BA Acting and Stage Combat
This course offers professional and vocational training in stage combat and performance. Students prepare to follow a career path in theatre, film and television where they may choose to become performers, action performers or action directors, movement specialists or physical instructors in related fields. BA Acting and Stage Combat draws from the East 15 philosophy and is focused on training actors through a variety of demanding physical performance skills.
This includes use of multiple weapons, horse riding and archery. It aims to create a performer who is emotionally connected, focused, disciplined and can use his/her voice and body as a tool of expression. It will give students professional skills to work creatively and safely. As specialists in their field, students will study in an historical as well as contemporary context, learning research skills required to develop their work within the industry.
BA Acting and Stage Combat has no comparable training course, either in the UK or the rest of the world. Applicants must be able to face the rigours of the course, which typically include gymnastics, martial arts, horse riding and strenuous physical effort. It may suit those who have already done martial arts, gymnastics or similar pursuits, and have the potential to use these skills in a creative context as an actor/performer. Additionally, East 15 looks for performers with a physical background who learn through, and wish to express character and story with, their whole body.
During the first two years the programme is structured into six modules in which students acquire and practice skills: in stage combat they study at least eight different weapon and stage fighting systems; in sporting skills they work towards qualifications in Aikido and fencing; in physical skills their studies include dance, Laban, gymnastics and parkour, historical archery, horse-riding, climbing and rope work. Traditional performance training is supplemented with voice, Commedia dell'Arte, Elizabethan and Jacobean performance, animal and mask work and fighting on camera.
Second-year students have the opportunity to apply their skills in a professional environment through a work placement scheme. This is supported with classes in contextual studies that cover health and safety, anatomy and physiology, and theatre history.
In the third year, students apply the skills they have acquired in years one and two in further study of stage combat in practice and performance, looking at special effects, advanced wounding and killing, presentation skills and choreography. They work on, and incorporate their learned skills into, classical, text-based, physical and devised performance projects and a graduation project. They prepare for entry into the professional arena with study of the process of production preparation and planning, audition technique and personal management skills. Students will also be given assistance in marketing themselves.
After East 15
Over the years, a number of East 15 graduates have gone on to become leading fight directors and specialist performers. This work extends from staged fights on film and television, in the theatre, opera and ballet, to re-enactments of historic battles, and animal and mechanical costume operating work for films. Thus this scheme intends to draw upon this expertise and put stage combat and related specialist performance skills into a coherent context and improve practice in this area.