Back in the Saddle

So this is a pretty physical show — there’s a lot of movement, and the last quarter of the play is an extended battle, with all manner of relatively historically accurate fighting styles. There are swords and shields and battle axes and maces and daggers and bucklers. That sort of armory takes some training to wield, and every weekend we’ve been meeting with Paul Dennhardt, our fight director, and his assistant Joe, who have been taking us through some pretty intricate choreography and getting the battle scenes to look downright awesome.

The only problem being this: Both Hal and Hotspur (who have the biggest single fight of the show) have bad backs; like needing physical therapy on a regular basis bad. Herniated discs bad.* But they’ve both been diligent and taking care of themselves and getting through it.

Today, while we were in the middle of choreographing a particularly complex sequence, Paul all of a sudden stopped cold, and dropped slowly to the ground where he twisted his leg to one side, then the other. He then asked for some assistance to get up, and said, “Gentlemen, please bear with me: I’ve just thrown out my back, which I’ve never done before, so this is new to me.”

Then, in one of the badder assed turns I’ve ever seen, he continued to work through what (if you’ve ever gone through it, you know) can only have been excruciating pain for another hour and a half and designed and taught an absolutely gorgeous sequence of dynamic fighting.**



* I’ve been known to have some back trouble myself, but [knocks wood] haven’t found myself laid up by it in a while.

** Including, but not limited to, my employment of the Mort Schlag:



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