Big news in the theatre world!
Beginning Fall 2021, Paradise Valley Community College is offering a Certificate of Completion (CCL) in Stage Combat. Students, as well as actors throughout the Valley, can take advantage of this opportunity to become certified in safe fight sequences for theatre and film, as well as earn recognition for their work through the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD), an organization promoting safety and fostering excellence in stage combat and theatrical violence.
“PVCC is the first college in the nation to offer this type of CCL, creating a blueprint for other colleges to follow,” said Theatre Director Andrea Robertson. “It’s a special part of PVCC that I want to continue to grow and improve upon.” Robertson is one of only two instructors in Arizona who is a certified teacher with the SAFD. Students come specifically to PVCC to work under her, learn stage combat skills, and become fight captains.
“Studying stage combat under (Robertson), as well as the guest fight masters she brings in for workshops and to adjudicate Skills Proficiency Testing has prepared me for the professional world of Fight Coordination and Stunt Safety more than any other program in the Valley,” said Randy Messersmith, Advanced Actor Combatant, SAFD, and retired Theatre Arts Director/Co-Chair of the Scottsdale School of Film+Theatre. “She is a fantastic teacher, mentor and professional colleague who also has professional connections that allow PVCC students to assist her on professional productions gaining much needed experience in the industry. There is no other choice in the Phoenix metropolitan area to study this art form than PVCC Stage Combat.”
The new CCL will have a more cohesive structure for learning and assisting than in the past. Previously, students would register for the same class over and over (THF130), learning different weapons each time. Going forward, the CCL credits will be broken into eight classes, two per semester for a total of two years. By breaking down the class, students can pick and choose which weapon they need and choose to be a teacher’s assistant or fight captain, which they also receive credit for.
Under Robertson’s direction, theatre students learn compulsory techniques for safety, theatrical commitment and believability with a dramatic context when acting out violence. As actors trained in stage combat move forward through training, they gain more skill in performing choreographed violence so that all involved can remain safe while creating an accurate depiction to the audience.
"I started stage combat with the hopes of taking a fun class,” said Jessica Parsons, who will work as Robertson’s teacher assistant next semester. “Besides being one of my favorite classes, stage combat has made me a better actress by giving me additional tools, confidence and challenging me in unique and meaningful ways. With this certification under my belt, I've learned to act and use my whole instrument to build characters with true purpose. I've made new friends and had so many wonderful opportunities both at PVCC and in our community. Every actor should take Stage Combat, it will help them be a more well-rounded actor and to be prepared to safely meet the challenges of any role."
In addition to the new certificate, the stage combat program will also offer renewal classes. Since weapons certification is only valid for three years, those wanting to renew their certificates can come to PVCC and take a renewal class.
“Training at PVCC in stage combat was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The opportunities that have come from it have been extraordinary including an award nomination, fight directing jobs, and lifelong friends,” said Alexander W. Hansen, a former TA for Roberson.