My first stage combat conference was incredibly thrilling and demanding. I was able to participate in three out of the four days. Unfortunately the fourth day was the day I needed to head out to resume my job with the National Players. I wasn't sure I would be able to squeeze in this opportunity before my departure because I was in the process of packing up my apartment, putting my belongings in storage, and traveling for months. I wasn't sure I would be able to afford the mental, physical, or time effort this would take, but boy am I glad I did.
I moved my belongings out of my apartment on Wednesday minus the possessions I'd be taking on the road with me, an air mattress, a sleeping bag, a pillow, and a small remainder of food in the fridge. Each night I came home exhausted to an apartment with no wifi, no coffee, and no shower curtain, only to pass out in my twin air bed on the hardwood floor in the middle of an empty bedroom.
Day one was a fast blur. I felt like a freshman on my first bleary-eyed day of orientation and class, only without my forced-friend roommate by my side for company. I knew the faces of a few people there, but only through brief professional meetings. I drove to Rosemont at a fuzzy 7:00am thinking how young, how female, how green I must come across, and internally predicted the mental elbowing I would have to do to claim a space at this little shin-dig. But as I check in and scan the crowd for the one friendly face I hope to see, I notice at least 50% of the people I'm checking out are young women like me. I do little happy dance inside my head and settle in.
I find a little spot against a wall near friendly looking people and do some half-hearted attempts at stretching, 'cause that's what real art people do in this situation, right? A nice man chats with me until we meet our organizers. The next 6/7 hours are intense. I run from Small Sword to a lecture on rehearsing scenes of sexual violence, to a class on grapples and falls and then to Broadsword. I make new friends with combatants in my level group, I have a lot of bad coffee from the hotel, and I stay to work on the massive group fight scheduled in the evening.
The next two days go by much in the same manner but with increasing soreness (and a minor injury). I really truly think I'm safe in saying that I have never ever been as sore as I was at the end of day three. I kinda wonder if I kept going, would I eventually cross a soreness threshold? I fought imaginary creatures with an imaginary quarterstaff, was exposed to super challenging new weapon styles: Longsword of Leichten (anyone?) and Case of Rapiers (two of them!!). I had a fun time working on "unrehearsed" Shakespeare with a look at the final fight in Hamlet. I spent so much time working to perfect my favorite weapon Small Sword (I'm not the only one, right? there are more of you out there?).
I have met some pretty incredible people through this opportunity and can't wait to see the familiar faces at all the next workshops. I feel so empowered that there are hundreds of women coming into this field with such passion and talent, and knowing I can be a small part of that is so wonderful.
Thanks to Fight Guy Photography for capturing all the moments of this experience!
About this blog
A place to post updates about what I am involved in as well as my experience navigating the Chicago theatre community.
Claire Allegra Taylor is a cultivator, investigator, and questioner of human relationships. She firmly believes that humans can always do better, be it in our treatment of the ones we love, our desire to fix epidemic social problems, or our care for our environment. Claire wants to use theatre as a means to show how this is possible. She would like to create work that is vibrant in its language and physical capacity that challenges a modern audience’s expectations.