Our work in the last few years has taken us all over the place in Europe, even as we are gearing up for another (Australian) Autumn in Melbourne.
In December we had the great pleasure to assist on Arctic Action‘s Mo-Cap and Stunt Aerial Course. Run by Krisoffer Jørgensen, they were joined by Performance Capture Director Carrie Thiel, Stunt Co-ordinator Joe Perez, and our own Alex Counsell from the University of Portsmouth Motion Capture Studio running the system. The whole event was made possible by sponsorship by Vicon.
Here’s a preview from participant Torri Birgisson:
VIRTUAL REALITY FILM FOR OCULUS RIFT, WITH OWL VR:
Where theatre meets film
Recently Captivate had an amazing shoot with OWL VR, designing and performing action in 360° for their new Virtual Reality short film for the Oculus Rift.
The film is currently a finalist for Best Live Action Film at the VR Festival.
Above: Adrian Grove, Jason Bailey and Matthew Postlethwaite.
This is ground-breaking work, and the brain-child of Producer-Director Richard Cambridge. The dramatic short was created specifically for the growing VR medium, and consciously explored production and story-telling techniques which enhance the 360° aspect.
For the project, Richard pulled together a range of creatives to devise lighting, script, set, movement, sound, music and action in a way which complemented the technology with the story, to give the viewer a completely compelling and believable immersive experience.
Above: make-up artist Leanna Biggs with actor Matthew Postlethwaite
Fight Director Lyndall Grant headed the Captivate Team in designing the 360° fight action. The process involved developing a new language in action story-telling, which drew upon experience and techniques from theatre, film and performance capture. The advanced fight team on set included Cristian Cardenas, Haruka Kuroda, Dean Williams, Ian Smith, Amy Bolger and Janet Adams.
The team worked alongside a fantastic cast which featured Matthew Postlethwaite, Kate Davies, Adrian Grove and Jason Bailey. Huge thanks to all the team who were involved – it was an amazing shoot full and a pleasure to be part of such a dynamic team.
Above: Kate Davies
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on the project and OWL VR.
2015 has come at us full on and there has been a glorious slog of activity: with sell-out courses both the U.K. and Australia, action arrangement and performance on a ground-breaking VR project, fight direction with PULSE FILMS, an interview with ABC national radio in Melbourne, stunt work, and the yearly highlight that is the Performance Capture Intensive in July, which this year saw Carrie Thiel (performance capture movement designer for The Lord of the Rings) join us from Canada. In the coming months will be heading across to Austria to work with the Vienna International School, and working with the Birmingham School of Acting. Throughout this we have also been collaborating with other performers in creating material for the upcoming Captivate Show Reels (see below), and continuing Performance Capture R&D wit the University of Portsmouth Motion Capture Studio.
For more pictures, footage and Behind the Scenes, catch up with our Social Media sites:
We are very please to announce that Captivate Action Pty. Ltd. is now registered in Australia, from our Victorian base. Huge thanks to everyone that has been a part of building to this next exciting chapter!
FACIAL CAPTURE R&D with THE UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
This month, Lyndall Grant and voiceover artists Kate Harbour joined the University of Portsmouth Motion Capture Studio team for some R&D in facial capture.
With Alex Counsell (head technician, Creative Technologies), Clifford Phillips (senior technician) and the student studio team, a full day was spent exploring techniques and performance with the technology. It was a bit of a treat to watch Kate (Wendy from Bob the Builder, Shaun the Sheep) go through her paces – and though we would never wish her to become a ‘performing monkey’, hearing the myriad of voices and characters she creates is delightful! Huge thanks to all for a great day.
NEW COURSE LAUNCH – BADC INTERMEDIATE and ADVANCED INTENSIVE
For further information, join us here
ACTORS CENTRE WORKSHOP: KEEP IT REAL
We returned to the Actors Centre this month, with a fantastic workshop on real and gritty fighting. Drawing from work by Kevin McCurdy, Lyndall Grant with assistant Amy Bolger spent a whole day with a room full of students enthusiastically tearing each other to pieces. This workshop builds skills for the style of fighting that is in high demand for today’s stage and screen industry – scrappy, realistic, opportunistic, organic (as seen in the highly-acclaimed music video for FONO Real Joy). In reality the priority (as always) is keeping your fight partner safe, and in fact takes a high degree of physical awareness, sensitivity and dexterity. Kudos to the students for taking themselves into the dark places of fighting, and literally throwing themselves into the high-energy action.
COMBAT ROADSHOW – Falmouth and Bristol
Early August, Lyndall Grant and assistant Amy Bolger travelled down to Falmouth to present a one-day introductory stage combat workshop with Swashbuckling Cornwall. SC is the brainchild of Henry Austwick, who created the company to provide dramatic combat training and events in the South West.
The event was hosted in the beautiful AMATA performing arts centre at Falmouth University, with the hope of kick-starting more training opportunities in the future. Over the day, an enthusiastic group of new students were taken through unarmed combat, knife and broadsword.
Fighting Fling Workshop – Bristol Tobacco Factory
The following day Lyndall and Amy returned to Captivate’s original home in Bristol to present our own Fighting Fling Workshop.
What a day, what a joy to teach! Blindfolds, knives, swords, monsters… each session and each student really pushing the limits, and excelling. And at the end there was just enough time for some lightsabres…
Also in August…
Our two-week intensive for the BADC Standard certification was a fantastic course, with a full team of students. Come onto the facebook page for all the photos. Well done to all!
PERFORMANCE CAPTURE INTENSIVE 2015
The biggest event in our Captivate training calendar, and this year it absolutely exceeded our expectations.
The 5-day Performance Capture Intensive is the first (and currently only) of its kind in the U.K. and ran for the second time in 2015.
We were graced with eleven highly-talented students – working professionals from a range of backgrounds, including circus artists, actors, martial artists, voiceover artists, puppeteers, movement performers and dancers. Each student completely through themselves into the work, and the results were joyful.
Once again the course was run in close collaboration with the impressive team at Portsmouth University CCi Motion Capture studio, headed by Alex Counsell. Joining us were senior students from the university’s motion capture courses, Katie Davies, Ben Sadler and Sunny Dave, who all worked completely tirelessly as our technicians.
This year we were also thrilled to host Canadian Performance Capture Director Carrie Thiel (Lord of the Rings, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven) as guest director, giving the students invaluable training from someone who has been in this field since its early beginnings. The course was headed by Lyndall Grant, also Fight Director, along with Andrew Young as tutor and assistant Fight director.
We would like to extend a heart-felt thanks to everyone involved, as the course ran on each tutor and student giving above-and-beyond what could be asked.
This year’s course was sold out 3 months after bookings opening, with a waiting list for the 2016 course already growing. We will release the dates for the 2016 in the next few months, so keep an eye on this News page and our Social Media sites for announcements. If you would like first refusal on a place, sign up to our Waiting List.
Thanks to Cristian Cardenas for the photos.
‘MOCAP’ MASTERCLASS WITH CARRIE THIEL
This year we were very happy to welcome Carrie Thiel to the Captivate Tutor team: Canadian Performance Capture Movement Director (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven). Apart from teaching on this year’s Performance Capture Intensive, Carrie also offered a special Masterclass evening in London – giving a tutorial introduction to the Motion Capture / Performance Capture industry, followed by a practical workshop.
It was an exceptionally well-attended event: with around 25 people joining the class. In the practical session Carrie took the students through working with crowd programs such as Massive – a fantastic opportunity to work with someone who was part of the action when this technology was developed for ‘Rings’.
Many thanks to Carrie and to all who came.
THE ACTORS CENTRE WORKSHOP: NASTY KNIFE
July was rounded off with a return to The Actors Centre, this time to teach the students a class in Nasty Knife fighting. Rather than being stuck in ‘staged’ combat, the workshop explored how to create gritty, scrappy fights with a blade. Great work by all! Our next Dramatic Combat workshop at The Actors Centre will be on 11th September, ‘Keep it Real’.
THE ACTORS CENTRE WORKSHOP: FIGHTING FOR FILM
We were welcomed back to the U.K. with a day at The Actors Centre, teaching a Fighting for Film day. This has become a popular session at the Centre, and was now running for the third time. The students spent a whole day learning foundations of technical and performance elements of performing action on screen. As always, the session culminated with the students being put ‘under pressure on set’, by filming small scenes containing violence. Huge thanks to everyone for their efforts.
Captivate are still in Australia! We had no idea that we would be this busy in Melbourne and Victoria. Australia has a fantastic pool of enthusiastic and skilled performers who are hungry for training – something to definitely respect. We were lucky enough to work with a range of drama schools, secondary colleges, theatre companies and artistic groups while we were there, as well as meeting a range of talented artists in our own Captivate classes. Here’s a summary of the highlights:
VICTORIAN COLLEGE OF THE ARTS: DRAMATIC COMBAT MODULE
Lyndall was simply thrilled to be asked to teach at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne – which has always been an icon in performing arts training in her native state of Victoria. The second year Bachelor of Fine Arts students complete a 5-week module in dramatic combat, with an emphasis on the skills, stories and craft behind devising dramatic fights for stage and screen. It is a dynamic course, and it was fantastic to work with a group students who had such appetite for creativity. The course culminated in a showing of fight scenes, which consciously integrated their skills in voice, movement, acting and combat all in one (in fact, what we all should be doing!).
AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S CIRCUS
The Australian Women’s Circus has to be one of the most well-regarded Australian companies for promoting women in the performing arts, and it was a privilege to work with them. Lyndall presented a CREATURE COMBAT workshop to company as part of their Dames Who Know the Ropes programme. It was an afternoon filled with unarmed combat, comedy and of course non-human creatures – and it was a joy to see the creativity come out from the session.
The company presents a range of courses and training in circus performance for women of all ages and backgrounds, in a fantastic circus-space facility. We look forward to further projects with them in the future.
Huge thanks to Artistic Director Steph Kehoe for inviting me to work with their members.
MELBOURNE THEATRE COMPANY NEON SEASON : FIGHT DIRECTION
The Melbourne Theatre Company presents the NEON festival – a season of new writing that showcases developing projects and emerging artists. In this year’s season, theatre company MKA provided a double-bill, with Lyndall fight directing new play Lucky by Tobias Manderson-Galvin.
The play is based in the fictitious land of New Albion, following the story of three convicts trying to escape from the remote back home to England. Directed by MKA Creative Director John Kachoyan, it is a fascinating look at the stories rooted in Australia’s past and present.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT WORKSHOPS: WEEKENDER AND FILM FIGHTING WEEKEND
Melbourne certainly has an appetite for dramatic combat workshop, and we were continually impressed by the level of creativity, enthusiasm and ownership that the professionals take into their training here. Following the 7-day FTGF WEAPONSFEST in April, we set up two further workshops in the FTGF Autumn series, the WEEKENDER and the FILM FIGHTING WEEKEND, both of which were sold out with waiting list building.
And what an amazing time we had. As a teacher it’s such a joy to start forming a team of performers who are developing in their craft and who speak the same language when it comes to dramatic fight performance.
The Weekender was a two-day workshop which focused on how we bring out the story-telling and characterisation in dramatic fights; how we work with our own bodies in creating the scene. We played through a range of workshops including knife, illogical fights (a la Allen Suddeth), scrappy fighting and understanding the language of dramatic violence. Huge thanks to the team for their bold choices and openness throughout the weekend. More!
FTGF FILM FIGHTING WEEKEND:
Again due to popular demand, the Film Fighting Weekend was set up to explore how we create safe and effective fights for screen. The first full-day workshop was the introductory day, where we looked at the technical aspects of working in fights on set. We had students from a range of backgrounds here, joined by camera operators Robert Fantozzi, Conor Woods and Henry Heng. Students and camera operators alike had a chance to play with working fights for film, and capturing sequences with full performance.
Day Two was our shoot day, in which we through our advanced students right into filming fight sequences in ‘industry conditions’. What a day. Robert, Conor and Henry were fantastic in shooting the scenes with creativity and flare. By the end of the day, each couple had a fight they could edit together as a reel – however perhaps more importantly they had the experience of performing screen fights under pressure with full energy and full technical awareness. Stirling job, all!
NEXUS BENDIGO YOUTH THEATRE: PIRATES OF PENZANCE
While back in Australia we were delighted to head back to Bendigo (Lyndall’s home town) to work with the Nexus Bendigo Youth Theatre. This is the kind of company that a lot of us only dreamed about having access to growing up, providing a fantastic opportunity for local students to come together as a community, study performance, and put on great shows. This year the company were presenting The Pirates of Penzance, and invited Lyndall to fight direct the pirate battle scenes.
As always, it was lovely to work with the young company, under the direction of Julie Lovell, Janelle Rotherham and assistant director Kristen Else. Best of luck for the performance!
BENDIGO SOUTH EAST COLLEGE: WORKSHOPS AND FIGHT DIRECTION
While in Bendigo, Lyndall was asked to return to Bendigo South East College for two days – running an introductory workshop in dramatic combat for screen to the senior school students, and giving some fight direction for this year’s Wakakirri competition. Huge thanks for having us back – and all the best for the performance.
NATIONAL THEATRE DRAMA SCHOOL, MELBOURNE
Lyndall returned to one of her original drama schools, the National Theatre Drama School, to teach stage combat classes throughout April and May. Joined by assistant Alice Cavanagh, students were taken through various styles, crafts and techniques for unarmed combat. The module culminated in the students devising fight scenes for performance to colleagues and teachers.
FIGHT THE FOOD FIGHT INTENSIVE: WEAPONS FEST
Our Australia trip started off with a blast, diving straight into the second Fight The Good Fight Intensive course. This year with the theme, Weapons Fest. The course was filled to capacity (with a packed waiting list), and we were blessed with an exceptionally talented group of professional performers from a range of backgrounds.
We were also thrilled to be joined Internationally-regarded Fight Directors, Scott Witt and Felicity Steel (we were to also be joined by Nigel Poulton, however he was committed to duties with the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean feature).
Overall it was an incredibly fulfilling event – and we would like to give sincere thanks to all involved. It feels like this may be the start of something big, Melbourne!
MOCAP 101: INDIVIDUAL TUITION
In early April we had the pleasure of working with actress and movement performer Mikayla Blanchard with our specialist Mocap 101 Session. This day is set up on an individual basis for performers on request, and tailored to exactly what they would like to learn or explore with Motion Capture. Working with our family at the University of Portsmouth, we were also joined by Actor Combatant Amy Bolger. The day was spent exploring how the technology works, how to create the best work in this medium, and how this specifically applies to dramatic combat. Huge thanks to all involved!
If you would like to set up your own personalised Mocap 101 session, whether for an introduction or to expand your skills base, please get in touch with our director, Lyndall Grant: email@example.com
PULSE FILMS: FONO ‘REAL JOY’ MUSIC VIDEO, FIGHT DIRECTING
This month we were thrilled to be involved with PULSE FILM’S music video for FONO’S Real Joy, directed by Simon Cahn. Lyndall joined the team as Fight Director with the Appropriate Danger Team (part of the FreeYourStyle Collective, with Nadia Sohawon), with actresses Madeleine Leslay and Abigail Poulton.
The video featured precisely the kind of fighting we love to create – scrappy, brutal, opportunistic – to fit in with Simon’s incredibly bold artistic vision. The shoot day itself was challenging on a rather brisk (ie. freezing) March day in Kent. However, not one crew member felt the right to mention the cold, given that our two actresses were performing in light spring skirts and being absolutely professional in doing so. Huge respect to both girls for throwing themselves wholly into the action, including diving into mud bogs, rolling around on grass and braving a freezing ocean. Respect also to D.P. Julien Meurice for his beautiful shots on film.
For more Behind the Scenes pictures of the shoot, come visit our Facebook Page
THIRD MAN THEATRE: MUGS ARROWS FIGHT DIRECTION
Third Man Theatre are remounting their production of Mugs Arrows for a National Tour, so Lyndall returned to oversee the action with the new cast members. It’s a tricky piece, with the audience on two-sides (ie effectively in the round) – however all the more satisfying when the stage combat works!
This is a truly well-crafted play by writer/actor Eddie Elks, and certainly deserves wide recognition. Best of luck!
MUSIC VIDEO: PULSE FILMS
This month we are starting work with Pulse Films on a new music video for band FONO. Directed by Simon Cahn, Lyndall Grant is coming on board as Fight Director with the FreeYourstyle Collective (under Nadia Sohawon). Auditions were held this month, with around 30 or so highly-skilled female dancers, movement artists and actor combatants attending. It was fantastic to see such a large representation of very capable, very talented ladies in such a short space of time. Rehearsals and filming will take place in March. More news on this to come…
WORKSHOPS SOLD OUT!
It is the month of the workshop! There has been an overwhelming response to our training courses this month, with both the 2015 Performance Capture Intensive and the Melbourne Fight the Good Fight Workshop selling out on the same day (the FTGF Workshop within 2 weeks of the course launch).
FIGHT DIRECTION for ‘THE FATHER’: TRAFALGAR STUDIOS
Lyndall Grant has been Fight Director for Jagged Fence Productions’ version of Strindberg’s The Father, which will be playing at Trafalgar Studios in March. It is a new adaptation by Laurie Slade, directed by Abbey Wright.
What a fabulous start to 2015!
There cannot be a better start to a year than being in Banff, Canada, at the Paddy Crean Workshop. Swiftly followed by the London MET Film School, there hasn’t been that much time to notice the new year creeping in.
FIGHTING FOR FILM: LONDON MET FILM SCHOOL ACT 3 COURSE
Most of January saw Lyndall teaching Fighting for Film at the London MET Film School (Ealing Studios), to their ACT 3 advanced acting students. It was a brand new course which explored film acting in more challenging situations – particularly those which need 360 degrees awareness and full physical story-telling. So the course ranged from multicam work to fighting for film.
Priscilla Doueihy and Miranda Adele:
The students really excelled and grew profoundly in their abilities with the course, which culminated in 5 short films which each contained an intense unarmed fight scene. Emphasis was placed on the emotional journey, character and story-telling, and each person absolutely rose to the challenge. Filming was immense with two cameras running and the rest of the class working as our full crew.
The outcome of the course is that now thestudents have an understanding of what is required of an actor in an action sequence – the technical, the performance, the pressures – and how to perform their best in this situation. Huge thanks goes out to Amy Bolger for assisting over the course and expertly working as our First Assistant Director during filming. Thanks also to our fantastic Camera Operators, George Tsikos and Beatrice.
PERFORMANCE CAPTURE: UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH ANIMATION COURSES
Lyndall and Andrew returned to our family at the CCi Motion Capture Lab, University of Portsmouth, to provide performance capture footage for their Animation and Creative Technologies course. Lead by Alex Counsell, Principal Technician, the students gain access to motion capture industry experience in running a mocap studio, and then processing the data. The swords came out again and we had a great time choreographing and performing increasingly difficult fight sequences for the mocap module.
It appeared that at the end of the day, we had some spare time. And some spare lightsabres. So in the last 5 minutes before wrapping, so decided to have a little more fun…
Fantastic photos taken by Clifford Phillips:
PADDY CREAN WORKSHOP, BANFF, CANADA
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the Paddy Crean Workshop is possibly the best Dramatic Combat Workshop in the world. It is a 6 day, full-time conference of classes that have anything to do with combat for stage, screen and motion capture. It is taught by world-class practitioners from the worlds of stunts, acting, martial arts, HEMA, and dramatic combat societies from across the globe.
Situated in the beautiful Banff Cantre, a unique arts and cultural centre nestled in the Rockies, it is predictably a life-changing experience to spend a week working amongst such passionate and creative fight professionals and students.
One of the most inspiring elements of this workshop is the continued ethos of sharing and cooperation – where skills and techniques are openly offered up by a range of masters and the participants themselves, to push forward the art as a whole and maintain a rare sense of community.
This year a number of the Captivate Artist Team were at the workshop and have come back brimming with inspiration for our work going forwards. The classes pushed the boundaries in creating highly realistic and heightened fights for stage and screen.
‘Real Fighting’ Workshop with Kevin McCurdy – training footage Lyndall Grant and Molly Grossman
And some general playtime:
We also worked with Carrie Thiel and Michelle Ladd in exploring the X-sens system for mocap, with technician Daniel Maendal from George Brown University.
Lyndall Grant and Ed Mendez, Photos by Lawrence Carmichael:
Lyndall Grant and Janine Waddell Hodder playing with the X-sens system:
Do look up the next Paddy Crean workshop in Dec 2016!
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE: ROSE THEATRE KINGSTON
Narnia flooded to the stage at The Rose Theatre Kingston at the start of this month, in beautiful story-telling and atmosphere. The three casts of child actors joined the 6 adult professionals in simply delighting audiences and generating rave reviews. After a mammoth effort to complete the tech and dress rehearsals (running through each three times, one for each different cast), director Ciaran McConville and a phenomenal team of creatives pulled together a fantastic Press Night and sell-out run.
Lyndall as the fight director was delighted to see how the child and adults performed the numerous fights and ‘epic’ final battle sequence – and even more delighted with the effect it had on the audience:
It is a great responsibility for any actor to perform any fight over a full run, however each child actor stepped up to the responsibility incredibly well – aided by the bedrock performances by the adults Tomm Coles, Richard Pryal and Kate Tydman who were fighting alongside them.
Huge credit to the six professional adult actors for delivering amazing performances and consistently high energy in each rehearsal and show. And of course, congratulations to the Youth Cast for all completing their first full run of a play at such a beautiful theatre – no small task for any actor.
FIGHTING FIX WORKSHOP: BRISTOL TOBACCO FACTORY
Mid-December Captivate returned to our Bristol home at the Tobacco Factory, for the Fighting Fix Workshop – as response to the cry for more dramatic combat classes from the Bristol Team! We took over the Brewery Studio again for a full day, exploring Creature Combat, 18th Century Smallsword and ways of working Unarmed Combat.
Richard Cambridge and Paul Farrell – Creature Combat
Brilliant creativity, brilliant energy from the students, and just a lovely day all around. In the evening we were able to catch up for Christmas Drinks. Thanks everyone for a great trip back to Bristol!
ROMEO AND JULIET: SOUTH WEST ACADEMY OF PERFORMING ARTS
This month Fight Director Lyndall Grant worked with the students at the South West Academy of Performing Arts to bring together their fights for Romeo and Juliet (directed by Bridget O’Donnell). The day started with two stage combat workshops to all of the cast and class, followed by choreography for the brawl scenes and iconic showdowns of the play using knives, ‘found’ weapons and unarmed combat. It’s a huge endeavour, with students comfortably doubling on roles and switching in between two different casts. Best of luck for the run in January! Many thanks to Paul Farrell for assisting me throughout the day.
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE: THE ROSE THEATRE KINGSTON
We are very excited to be working with The Rose Theatre Kingston this month for their Christmas show of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Directed by Ciaran McConville with beautiful music by Eamonn O’Dwyer, the piece is pulling together 6 professional adult actors with three casts of around 23 youth actors. Lyndall Grant is thrilled to be arranging the numerous fights and final battle (described by Ciaran as ‘apocalyptic’), and is being assisted by teacher Andrew Young and fight performer Amy Bolger. Gabrielle Moleta, who is our Captivate Movement Director, is also working on the project to aid with the actors’ Animal characters. It is a huge-scale project driven by a team of very talented creatives that are pleasure to work amongst. The show will open in December and run through to early January 2015.
THE ACTORS CENTRE: INJURY AND DEATH WORKSHOP
In a first for the Actors Centre, Lyndall returned to present her workshop in Injury and Death – a toolbox for performers to piece together how we can accurately and safely portray these difficult moments. Lyndall draws upon medical training and experience to lead the students through different injuries (for example, how do you react when stabbed by a sword?) and different scenarios. Finally we explore some deaths which actors are commonly asked to play in stage and screen, learning what the body does in these extreme circumstances and how to replicate this without damaging ourselves physically and emotionally. As traumatic as it sounds, it is an incredibly fun and liberating class – and the students did a fine job of boldly taking the session full on. Thanks to all for a great day!
SHAKESPEARE’S HENRY IV PART 1: THRICE NINTH at ST. JAMES THEATRE
Shakespeare! Members of the Captivate Team were on stage in London’s West End at the St. James Theatre, in Thrice Ninth Production’s repeat run of Henry IV Part 1. Actor combatants Andrew Young, Frank Teale and Lyndall Grant performed the piece in the St. James Studio’s Lunchtime Theatre programme, to near-capacity audiences over the course of the run. Lyndall was also the fight director for the play, and our Director of Acting Michael Yale was also performing and directing. There was some adaptation of the fights needed from The Rose Stage to the (much) smaller St. James Studio stage, with Frank and Andrew having to work hard so they weren’t fighting on people’s laps. However the end result was breath-taking.
This year Bristol’s Circomedia are celebrating their 20 year anniversary. Renowned as one of the leading institutions for training in Circus Performance, they are marking the event with a range of workshops – including stage combat. Lyndall headed up to their Portland Square venue to give the students a session in scrappy fighting – Dirty, Gritty, Nasty. It is always a privilege to work with artists who have a strong physical awareness, and this was no exception. In the space of 3 hours the messy fights produced by the participants were enough to make even their teacher squirm – always a good sign! Well done to all involved.
SCREEN FIGHTING WORKSHOPS: EASTLEIGH FILM FESTIVAL AND MET FILM SCHOOL
Lyndall Grant and Andrew Young were invited to the inaugural Eastleigh Film Festival as part of their Film Industry Day.
The day brought together a panel of industry experts to present discussions and panels for aspiring filmmakers, and professional development for those already working. Captivate presented two masterclass workshops in Screen Fighting – taking the participants through how we make the illusion of fight work, and what performance and technical elements bring out the best story. There was a great collection of talented creatives at the event, and it was fantastic to see the wealth of knowledge available in the interests of moving the industry further. Thanks for a great day.
Lyndall and Frank Teale also returned to the MET Film School this month to deliver a full day of Screen Fighting for their Act 2 Acting students.
SHAKESPEARE’S HENRY IV PART 1: THRICE NINTH PRODUCTIONS, THE ROSE PLAYHOUSE
Captivate was thrilled to be involved with Thrice Ninth Production’s runs of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 at The Rose Playhouse Bankside.
This theatre is actually at the historic archaeological site of the original Rose Theatre where Shakespeare played, and where Henry IV Part 1 was first performed in the late 16th Century. The stage overlooks the dig site, which is currently submerged under water for preservation and atmospherically lit – such that the performances effectively alongside a beautiful underground pond.
Captivate Team members Frank Teale, Andrew Young, Michael Yale and Lyndall Grant were all involved as performers in the piece, with Lyndall also working as the fight director.
The audience response was very humbling, with overwhelmingly good comments about the piece, performances and fights:
“The juddering finale is also impressive with desks and Filofaxes flung about the place amid expertly-choreographed fight sequences — impressive work by Lyndall Grant and particularly alarming given the tight space and proximity of the small audience.” – Stu Black, The Londonist
“The bare-knuckle fighting was some of the best that I have ever seen. The actors used their fists and a series of wrestling moves to brutally assault each other in fast-paced and visceral physical feats of strength. Prince Hal and Hotspur’s fight was particularly thrilling, with each resorting to a series of chokeholds, furious punches, and arm-breaking wrenches as they literally wrecked the set. Hotspur was finally dispatched by Hal’s violent jabbing of the paper-knife into his neck. It was chaotic, but ordered chaos, and certainly made one hold one’s breath throughout the duration of the fighting.” – Steve Orman, Reviewing Shakespeare
SWASHBUCKLING CORNWALL: PIRATE FIGHTING IN FALMOUTH
Two days of Pirate Swashbuckling? Who could say ‘no’?
Lyndall Grant and Andrew Young headed down to Falmouth with Swashbuckling Cornwall to deliver two days of Swashbuckling workshops and performances for Falmouth Week. Thankfully we were blessed with two days of perfect weather, with the outside set-up in the centre of the town. Swashbuckling Cornwall put on a great event, setting up workshops for children, families and adults. In particular, the family workshops were fantastic – giving the parents an excuse to get their ‘Pirate’ on… of course for the sake of the kids! Sometime it’s hard to believe that this kind of thing is called ‘work’! Keep up with Swashbuckling Cornwall in the future, as they are now setting up a string of stage combat and screen combat workshops for Cornwall.
July heralded the start of one of our busiest periods yet – with the Performance Capture Intensive, lots of Fight Directing, teaching at the MET Film School, West End Workshops, and work with Thrice Ninth Productions’ Henry IV Part 1. It’s not letting up from here.
PERFORMANCE CAPTURE INTENSIVE: With CCi Motion Capture Lab
What can be said? This intensive course, the first of its kind in the UK (and we are pretty sure, in Europe) was absolutely astounding.
Eleven highly motivated and talented students joined us at The University of Portsmouth Creative Technologies Department (headed by Alex Counsell). The students came from a diverse range of performance backgrounds, which greatly contributed to the depth and texture of the course – including actors, stunt performers, martial artists, circus performers, acrobats, gymnasts and actor combatants.
Over the five days, the students were thrown into an intense week of training specifically for performance capture and motion capture, with classes designed to open their creative pathways, develop and stretch their physical performance range, and explore how to best bring out their existing performance specialties for this medium.
After an introduction to the technology and some general play time, we covered physical story-telling, gaming, imagination techniques, animal transformation, creature creation, combat, and scene work in solo, duo and groups. Each of the Captivate Directors lead a different day of the intensive: our Dance Director Amir Giles, Movement Director Gabrielle Moleta, Fight Director Lyndall Grant and teacher/Mo-cap Performer Andrew Young.
The workshops culminated in a ‘watch-back’ session – made possible by the amazing tech team, Alex Counsell, George Sears and Daniel Baybutt, working tirelessly to process that day’s data by the afternoon. Incredible.
Overall it was such a wonderful experience, and it has to be said – a huge success. However it was only made so by the notable openness, tolerance, focus and enthusiasm shown by all involved.
SHAKESPEARE’S HENRY IV PART 1, THRICE NINTH PRODUCTIONS
This month saw the start of rehearsals for Thrice Ninth Productions’ new Henry IV Part 1, which will run at The Rose Playhouse in August. Three of our Captivate Artist Team are returning to work with Thrice Ninth as actors who are also advanced fight performers: Frank Teale as Hotspur, Andrew Young as Prince Hal, and Lyndall Grant as Lady Percy and the company’s Fight Director.
With the fights set at the climax of the play, Lyndall is utilising the full skill and range of the advanced actor-combatants in designing the choreography. The piece is set in a modern corporate environment, with lots of room for use of ‘found weapons’ and furniture. It promises to be an exciting project.
Rehearsals are taking place at the beautiful Wushi Studios in Islington.
FIGHT DIRECTING: THE LONG ROAD SOUTH and OTHELLO
We have been involved in two further Fight Directing projects for theatre this month – working with Director Jake Murray for Paul Minx’s new play The Long Road South at The Hope Theatre; and Erratic Dramatic’s Othello.
Both plays are up to run in August.
MET FILM SCHOOL: FIGHTING FOR FILM WORKSHOP
Lyndall and Andrew Young headed across to Marlborough to teach a workshop in Fighting For Film for the MET Film Summer School. As is always the case, we were met with wild enthusiasm and energy from the students (and, perhaps even more so, from the tutors) for throwing themselves into fights. The students were taken the basics of creating the illusion of fighting for film, and given notes on technical and artistic factors for an actor to keep in mind for this medium. Finally the session culminated in our own film fight choreography, and mass brawl scene. Huge well done to all involved.
ACTOR’S CENTRE LONDON: ‘DIRTY, GRITTY, NASTY’ WORKSHOP
In today’s theatre and film, a very common request for fight direction is to have ‘just a scuffle’ which looks like it’s not choreographed. This has most likely sprung from what we would call ‘STAGED’ combat – ie. dramatic combat that either hasn’t been arranged or performed effectively. However in reality all good dramatic violence should look as though it’s ‘not choreographed’. That being said, the art of performing dramatic fights which look scrappy, visceral and organic actually requires a high level of physical awareness, control and communication – and do need to be choreographed!
This was taken to students at The Actor’s Centre in the Dirty, Gritty, Nasty workshop – with 3 hours of underhand and seemingly ‘opportunistic’ scrapping with each other. The work that came from the session was most impressive. The finale was incorporating these style of fights into their own individual scenes, which were performed with just the right amount of grit and nastiness to slightly disturb the rest of the class in the right kind of way.
ARTS ED SCHOOL OF ACTING, LONDON Industry Talk: Acting for Performance Capture
Early this month Lyndall returned to her old drama school to talk to the second year BA Acting students on working in Performance Capture. And what a lovely bunch! The students were given an introduction to the technology, what kind of work is opening up, what happens during a shoot and what they can do to increase their chances of working in this field. It was a great session, with the students very keen and switched on to what they need to learn.
IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY!!
We are very happy indeed to say that this is our birthday month!
The idea for team which trains and works in Performance Capture was born from working with Michelle Ladd and Carry Thiel at the 2012-2013 Paddy Crean Workshop, Banff. In early May 2013 this idea grew into developing Captivate as a company, and we officially incorporated on 22 May 2013.
We took this first anniversary as an opportunity to thank all the people who have shown support, enthusiasm and commitment to Captivate – and let’s face it, in these early years, without so many people sharing their skills and energy to the company we could not have come so far so quickly. The Captivate Family had a great night of merriment and cheer – here’s to another brilliant year!
ACTOR’S CENTRE LONDON: FIGHTING FOR FILM WORKSHOP
This month Lyndall returned to the Actor’s Centre in London for a full day of Fighting for Film. Ten acting students filled the room to learn the basics of how we create the illusion of fighting on screen. After a morning of demonstrations, play and exploration, the students were then all given scenes and choreography to film under ‘industry conditions’. The results were fantastic, and it was a great day all round. After great feedback, Lyndall will be returning to the Actors Centre to deliver the workshop again on Friday 31st October 2014.
BRISTOL COMBAT SPRING TERM – BADC LEVELS TWO and THREE
The Bristol Team is back in full-swing, with the start of another BADC Level 2 (Intermediate) and 3 (Advanced) course. Once again have a sell-out class, and a team of incredibly keen and fiesty fighters!
BRISTOL EASTER INTENSIVE – DRAMATIC COMBAT BADC LEVELS TWO and THREE
Easter saw us head to Bristol for two weeks, for the Easter Intensive Dramatic Combat course at the Tobacco Factory. A full classroom of very hard-working students spent two weeks training full-time for their BADC Levels 2 (Intermediate) or 3 (Advanced).
Interspersed with this, the students were lucky enough to take extra classes with Wushi Taiji Quan Master Michael Acton, gaining access to breath, relaxation, awareness and fluidity for combat through tai chi. We also had an amazing Swashbuckling session with the great Jonathan Howell, with all the flair and performance that we want to excite an audience.
Overall it was a fantastic fortnight, and the students did us very proud in their exams.
For further information on Taiji and Qigong training with Michael Acton, do visit their website: www.wutaijiandqigong.co.uk
ROMEO AND JULIET – BIRDIEDOES
April also saw us return to work with Birdiedoes on their production of Romeo and Juliet, with the mass Montague vs Capulet battle at the start of the piece. Great work by the cast to throw themselves into the choreography.
March has been particularly busy – juggling Performance Capture Director training at The Imaginarium with Spacific Films, private tuition in stage combat, fight directing Romeo and Juliet for theatre company Birdiedoes, and taking the Tobacco Factory BADC Level One class through the final classes before their exam.
TRAINING IN DIRECTING FOR PERFORMANCE CAPTURE: WITH SPACIFIC FILMS AND THE IMAGINARIUM STUDIOS
Early March Lyndall worked with Director Leanne Pooley from Spacific Films to provide training in directing for Performance Capture. The training session was hosted at The Imaginarium Studios, with the team collaborating to provide a fantastic opportunity for exploring and developing techniques.
Over the next year Leanne and Spacific Films will be creating an animated feature documentary on the Gallipoli Landings to commemorate their 100 year anniversary. The film, 25 April, will use a number of animation techniques including performance capture to retell events from contemporary accounts.
Captivate Performer Andrew Young did a fantastic job throwing himself around as a WWI soldier for the session, and it was great to work with the generous team at the Imaginarium. The following day Performer Frank Teale continued the good work, as the ‘body’ we used to demonstrate ways of directing movement for injury, death and combat. Thanks also to Ben Porter for the photography, and for tagging in as a performer for fight scenes at the end of the day.
Huge thanks to all involved.
FIGHT DIRECTING: ROMEO AND JULIET WITH BIRDIEDOES THEATRE COMPANY
New theatre company Birdiedoes are gracing the scene with their new production of Romeo and Juliet. Lyndall has been in to start training the cast and fight directing the traditional rapier fighting and group brawling for this production. The show will be staged in May and June at The Space in London, and the Underground Theatre in Eastbourne.
BRISTOL COMBAT: BADC LEVEL ONE COURSE AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY and PRIVATE TUITION
Captivate’s first team of Level One BADC students completed their training and took their exam at the end of March. All the examining students passed with fantastic results, joined by Emma Vickery who took an Advanced Single Weapon study in hand-and-a-half broadsword as a private class to prepare her for a role with Illyria Theatre Company (kudos to Illyria for insisting all actors involved with fighting have an advanced certification).
FIGHT DIRECTING AND PERFORMANCE: THRICE NINTH PRODUCTIONS NEW PLAY, IN THE THRICE NINTH KINGDOM
The Captivate Team featured in the production of new play In the Thrice Ninth Kingdom by Thrice Ninth Productions, staged this month at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London’s West End.
Captivate Artist Team members Frank Teale, Andrew Young and Lyndall Grant performed as actors heavily involved in fight roles; with Lyndall also Fight Directing for the piece.
The play was a brutal exploration into what people are prepared to do to find a ‘better world’, questioning the audience what they themselves would do, what actions they think are ‘right’ and whether they can pass judgement on others.
Supported by UK Charity the Kaleidoscope Trust, the piece played to capacity audiences for the run, including for a Q&A night featuring prominent speakers on international and LGBT rights such as BBC Journalist Paul Henley, and former director of Global Affairs at the Foreign Office, Phillipa Drew.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It promises to be an exciting year, with Captivate moving into the second-half of our first year on the scene. Coming up already… we have our UK-exclusive intensive training week for Performance Capture (July), the Fight the Good Fight dramatic combat workshop with Felicity Steel in Bristol (August), BADC training courses and intensives throughout the year, Fight Directing in London, Performance Capture with the CCi Motion Capture Lab… and that’s before we’ve properly opened our diaries.
Thanks to everyone we have worked with so far – looking forward to the next phase now in 2014.
PERFORMANCE CAPTURE WITH CCi MOTION CAPTURE LAB, THE UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Lyndall Grant and Andrew Young returned to the University of Portsmouth this month to capture fight clips for their motion capture unit (as part of the BSc (hons) Computer Animation). Using broadsword and unarmed fighting scenes, Lyndall and Andy created profressively more difficult material for the students to use as part of their training. Again, it was a fantastic day to work with the CCi Team.
IN THE THRICE NINTH KINGDOM PLAY: FIGHT DIRECTION AND PERFORMANCE
The Captivate Team are working with Thrice Ninth Productions for their new play, In the Thrice Ninth Kingdom. Rehearsals started this month, with Andrew Young, Frank Teale and Lyndall featuring as performers and fighters. Lyndall is also fight directing for the piece, with fight rehearsals well under way. The play will be run at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London’s West End next month.
December has topped off a pretty remarkable start to Captivate for 2013. After just a few months from opening, we are very pleased to have the support of so many colleagues and artists, and to have developed some fine new relationships. 2014 is promising to bring great work and ground-breaking projects.
CCi MOTION CAPTURE, THE UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Recently the Captivate Performance Directors spend a day with the CCi Motion Capture team for an R&D day into direction and performance for motion capture.
Lyndall Grant (Fight Director), Gabrielle Moleta (Movement Director) and Amir Giles (Dance Director) took the opportunity to play with different qualities of movement, energy, and story-telling to really bring the captured images to life. The discoveries were very significant for enhancing future work.
THE ACTORS CENTRE, LONDON: Dramatic Combat Workshop
The last month of 2013 kicked off with a return to the Actors Centre, this time to take a workshop in ‘Actioning the Fight’. The students explored using ‘actions’ as an acting technique informing choices and intentions within a fight, to help maintain a textured character journey – with some fascinating scenes coming out as a result. The workshop was a great success, with kudos to the actors for throwing themselves into the work.
‘MONGREL COUNTRY’ SHORT FILM
Captivate was please to be involved with Mediorite in working on the short film, ‘Mongrel Country’, to oversee stunts. Actress Alicia Bayly did a fantastic job throwing herself repeatedly on a (relatively manky) wet toilet floor.
The project was a collaborative project with charity SHP (supporting homeless and vulnerable people in London, and promoting social inclusion) – giving new creatives the opportunity to write and produce their own short film. The atmosphere on set was palpably positive, friendly and professional, and it was a pleasure to work with such an inspirational team. This is the third short film created by SHP, the previous two having been shown at the BFI.
Captivate has just returned from an amazing month in Australia… and what a great response to stage combat from the Aussies.
BENDIGO SOUTH EAST COLLEGE
Lyndall returned to her home-town of Bendigo in Victoria, to work with the year 9 and 10 drama students at Bendigo South East College. She was blown away by the enthusiasm, maturity and openness of the students there – a credit to the staff and the students themselves.
NEXUS YOUTH THEATRE
Back to Bendigo, Lyndall was thrilled to work with the Nexus Youth Theatre, with an unarmed stage combat workshop for 38 willing students, and a second class for local drama teachers and actors. Again she found it a joy to work with all the students – and witnessed the remarkable sight of all 38 students following instructions and committing full energy. Nexus Youth Theatre are doing some impressive work, generating a love of theatre in the local youth and fostering developing creatives. They are worth a look, and support.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT WORKSHOP
For a full 7-days Lyndall teamed up with local SAFDi Fight Professional Felicity Steel, in teaching the FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT WORSHOP. A sell-out team of students threw themselves into a week of learning how to create safe and effective fights for stage and screen. The first day started with Lyndall featuring on ABC Melbourne Radio with Red Symonds to talk about the course.
After this, classes included unarmed, sword-work, swashbuckling, blood effects, film fighting, knife work, staff work, contact improvisation, and acting classes. The students committed their all, and the results showed. Huge thanks to all for making it such a successful workshop.
BRISTOL STAGE COMBAT CLASSES AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY
This term’s Level Two (Intermediate) BADC certification course has just concluded, with the students taking their exam last Tuesday. And I have to say, they smashed it – with fantastic results all round.
The exam was the culmination of 6 weeks training in Broadsword, Quarterstaff, and Rapier with Gauntlett; with the results reflecting some very hard work and training from all the students. Lyndall is a very proud teacher indeed.
This was the first full certification course run by Captivate – and here is the successful class:
The Level One (Standard) BADC course has opened bookings for the Jan-March term – and there are only three spots left. It seems Bristol has an appetite for dramatic combat.
And then next up is the Easter Intensive for Levels 2 and 3, all set to make it a great start to 2014.
See CURRENT WORKSHOPS AND COURSES if you would like to join us.
For any other enquiries please get in touch.
MO-CAP: PLAYING AT PORTSMOUTH
Lyndall and Faisal Ahmed Mian recently spent a day capturingTaiiji and Kung Fu with the University of Portsmouth CCi Motion Capture team. The day culminated with Lyndall placing Faisal on a ‘battlefield’, ‘surrounded by orcs’, ‘defending his village’ – and this is what Faisal gave us:
For a first-time play we can already see the potential emerging…
As usual the team at Portsmouth, headed by Alex Counsell, were very generous with giving us time to get into some suits and play with different movement types, performance and arrangement. Faisal, a 6th generation successor of Wu Shi Taiji Quan and Qigong, was given reign in the volume – capturing rare taiji forms and experimenting with expression. This is all paving the way for more exciting research projects to follow – watch this space.
Thanks again to Alex, to brilliant motion capture tracker Krisztián Kinder (1st class honours degree graduate from the Portsmouth BSc Computer Animation Course), and to computer animation student George Sears for excellent cleaning of the footage.
ACTOR’S CENTRE WORKSHOP: SWORDPLAY FOR SHAKESPEARE
The word ‘sword’ is mentioned in every Shakespeare play but two. Anthony and Cleopatra and Henry VI Part Two top the charts, each with 28 mentions. Almost half of Shakespeare’s plays have fighting in the script, let alone what a director decides to add.
This last Friday 25th October, Lyndall taught a Swordplay for Shakespeare workshop at The Actor’s Centre in Central London. The students explored the significance of swords and swordplay in the context of Elizabethan society, and why they are so prevalent the theatre.
After learning theatrical rapier technique the students were then thrown into a ‘fight scene’ scenario for Shakespearean theatre, each group working with Lyndall as fight director to create their own sequence for the Romeo-Tybalt-Mercutio fight from Romeo and Juliet.
Overall it was a great day, with the final scenes looking fantastic.
Lyndall will return to the Actors Centre on December 6th for a workshop in ‘Actioning the Fight’.
Short Film Shoot – Working Title Superhuman
Recently Lyndall was Fight Directing for Free YOURStyle’s ident for their new television series. This Ident: ‘Black Russian vs William Hawksmoor…
Superheros, Ninjas, Butterflies… it’s all intriguing. For this ident we were filming in the Grecian Masonic Temple at Liverpool Street – a truly stunning and atmospheric location (as seen in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes). Actors Barra Collins and Nadia Sohawon did an amazing job throwing themselves around the marbled floors, fighting unarmed and with rapiers. And, yes, in between shots we were pushing tiles and chair rests to see if any secret passages opened up.