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Globe's New 'Robin Hood!' Stages Swordplay In The Round

Matthew Bowler
Fight choreographer Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum demonstrates a move as he stages some swordplay in the new Globe production of Ken Ludwig's "Robin Hood!", July 7, 2017.

New swashbuckling play inspired by 1938 Errol Flynn film

Globe's New 'Robin Hood!' Stages Swordplay In The Round
GUESTS: Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum, "Robin Hood!" fight choreographer Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Movie star defines the roads in the film of Robin Hood. Now it takes inspiration from that movie for their play by Ken called Robin Hood. The Hollywood film set the tone for the swordplay that takes place on stage. Beth Accomando speaks with Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum about staging action in the round. You are working on Robin Hood. For someone who does fight choreography would seem like a bit of a straining job. It's been great. This Robin Hood is new. Wii are not doing any of the old Robin Hood's. This is not only the holy Grail but it is also a chance to innovate on the holy Grail. So we've been having a blast. When you're tackling something like this give me a sense of the process like how do you start and you work closely with the director and the actors to come up with the choreography My job is primarily to work with the director to tell the story. So the first thing that happened is you meet with the director and you go over what is happening in the scene because very often it just says the fight or there is a fight that ends with -- like the stage directions for a fight scene often will suggest that the scene is over but you wind up with three minutes of sword playing. Hopefully that three minutes is full of plot points that resolve character, conflicts that were set up earlier in the show or in the scene. You work with the director to establish what the story is and then you work with the actors because I think as with any other scene that is negotiated with words instead of swordplay you want to make sure that it is not sort of like a monolithic line of this one thing happening but you have new wands in the execution of the scene and working with the actors not only am I teaching them the choreography often, but you will be like something doesn't feel right in the actors will -- many times in this process the insight that the actor bring to the character changes whatever presumption I may have had about what the choreography will look like. By the time you get to that point in rehearsal the characters know more about the characters that you might have known. So this is going to be in the round. It seems like doing fight choreography is difficult for the stage and now you have this attitude so what was that challenge like question mark In informed how were treating the Aero cues that we have I think that was the most heavily hit area the one thing that putting a fight in the round does which is good for fight choreography is that sword fighting specifically involves and the audiences assumes and hopes to see a lot of swings that don't hit. Like when you are imagining a movie there fighting on the stairs. Those aren't -- Wii are not forced to believe that Wii missed seeing the cut land. That thing you can do in the round and have thrust online at your fellow characters. This angle opens up a lot of different viewing lines to the audience that they might not have if they're watching it to This production has been influenced by the Errol Flynn version. Did you watch that? I've been like a fan since I was -- I can ever remember the first time I saw that movie. So I have seen that movie many times. Definitely watch it again in the style that where going for here is very similar and specifically Wii are still using broad swords which are historically accurate but the ones that wear using in the show are made out of aerospace aluminum instead of steel because in order to accomplish the style -- those swords that they use are not steel swords. Wii are doing the same thing here we have these very light and very agile weapons so that the actors can accomplish that style of choreography. How difficult is it for you to stage fight choreography for an audience who has now become kind of jaded with all the stuff that they see in movies Russian Mark have you work a choreography to kind of make it look good and not disappoint them and yet know that you can't do cinematic fighting on stage? I think the most important thing in staging the fight is to make sure that the thing that you do in life theater is still a thing that you are doing and live the acrid goal -- theatrical sword fighting. That is the same thing you are doing in a movie fight. Obviously there is set pieces where people are flying or an explosion and people are tumbling through the air but without the ability to defy gravity or the ability to test they have moments that you can't duplicate on stage where the sword is disarmed and flies through the air and then 30 seconds later they catch it from the loft. It is not impossible to do that on the stage but in involves a level of overt trickery were you asked the audience to suspend. It's none of that unless you are doing a farce you have to modulate the scale. To answer the question, I think the most important thing is to realize that the audience is expecting an experience that has been informed by film and to make sure that the style of what you are giving them is reminding them of that and to keep it as exciting as it can be by presenting them a sword fight that is directly in front of them. I think those usually to the track. There is no danger in watching a film -- even though you know that your actors are going to get hurt and every effort is made to keep them safe. Part of theater is you just don't know IRCA That is right. There is a convention in the life theater of doing a fight call before the show . This is in place so that the actual danger to the actors is mitigated by the fact that even if they have had a crazy weekend and just getting back at least they will have an opportunity to refresh the memory before they go into it again live before the audience. You can mess up 100 times in two things -- Thank you very much. Thank you. The Robin Hood runs July 22 through September 3 at the theater.

Errol Flynn defined the swashbuckling heroics of Robin Hood in the 1938 film "The Adventures of Robin Hood." Now the Old Globe takes inspiration from that movie for its newly commissioned play by Ken Ludwig, "Robin Hood!"


Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title and based on Ludwig's previous work for the Globe, it is likely to be well earned. In 2015 the Globe staged Ludwig's manically entertaining "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery." That play was also in the round and used a small cast that performed multiple roles requiring some impressive quick change costume skills.

"Robin Hood!" is a new Globe-commissioned world premiere comedy that tackles another legendary character, Robin Hood. The play is directed by Jessica Stone who previously did "Arms and the Man" and "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at the Globe.

Ludwig and Stone readily acknowledge that the source of inspiration for the play is the classic Warner Brothers film starring the dashing Errol Flynn. That film also sets the tone for the swordplay choreographed by Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum. He grew up loving Flynn's movies, which inspired him to pursue fencing and ultimately a career as a fight choreographer. Here is a sample of the swordplay between Flynn's Robin Hood and Basil Rathbone's Sir Guy of Gisbourne in "The Adventures of Robin Hood."

Robin fights Sir Guy

Grigolia-Rosenbaum's job was made more challenging by the fact that the play is being performed in the round with audience members just a few feet away from actors wielding swords.