Fighting Disparagement | Letters | Chicago Reader

Fighting Disparagement 

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To the editors:

I would like to correct a misconception in the article "Stage Fights," July 2, 1993, by Mary Shen Barnidge. The cast and author discussed briefly the Society of American Fight Directors (" . . . you can always take the workshop offered by the Society of American Fight Directors and get yourself certified. . . . suggests dryly while the others chuckle"). This somewhat disparaging remark requires response, as most of the cast was trained under the auspices of the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD) and much of the rest of the article discusses theories taught and practiced by the SAFD.

The SAFD is now in its 15th year of existence, a nonprofit organization devoted to training and improving the quality of stage combat; committed to the highest standards of safety in the theatrical, film, and television industries. There are three levels of status within the Society: Fight Master, Certified Teacher, and Actor/Combatant, all of which require specific testing to achieve said status. Training programs are in place at over 40 universities and regional theatres in the United States. There are currently 9 Fight Masters, 36 Certified Teachers, and over 1,000 Actor/Combatants on the SAFD membership roster, with many other actor/combatants tested but not enrolled. Before the SAFD there was only the Society of British Fight Directors (SBFD) as a place to study the art of stage combat. There is also now a Society of Canadian Fight Directors.

Nearly all the actors in Night at the Fights have tested and shown proficiency as Actor/Combatants with the SAFD (though many have allowed their membership to lapse . . .) and Dr. Robin McFarquhar (their teacher) is a Certified Teacher with the SAFD.

As stated in the article, the SAFD is not a union, but the only national organization which has developed recognized standards for levels of skill in the Stage Combat Arts. We hope that these guidelines will prove helpful to producers, directors, and educators when employing the services of performers, teachers, or choreographers of Staged Violence. For more information call 1-800-659-6579.

We are pleased at the efforts of Mr. Mochel and his cast to promote Staged Violence as a performing arts skill and wish them all the best for a long run in Night at the Fights but do ask them to remember their roots and the organization that allowed them to learn their basic skills in America.

David Woolley

Certified Teacher

Regional Representative, SAFD

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