Take That! Mick Bleyer on Stage Combat

Mick Bleyer, illustrious member of The WorkShop Theater since 2009 did his first show with us in 2007 and as been entertaining audiences ever since.  Other credits include: I Am Harvey Milk (Avery Fisher Hall), The Anthem (Lynn Redgrave Theater/Culture Project), the short film (and festival favorite) Blonde, and a bunch of other NYC and regional credits.
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Actor, Mick Bleyer*

 

I actually came to the WorkShop because of fight choreography. I had worked with Galway McCullough on a production of Othello downstairs at the Abingdon, and he was choreographing the WS Mainstage production of Macbeth. He told director Charles E. Gerber that they should call me in to audition… and the WS hasn’t been able to get rid of me since!
I grew up as a gymnast and then moved into the world of dance, so story-telling through movement comes pretty naturally. When I started focusing more on classical work a number of years ago, stage combat became a major focus – both out of necessity and out of intrigue. I mean, where else do you get to play with swords for a living?
There are 2 major challenges with this piece in terms of stage combat. One is purely logistically – it’s not a heck of a lot of room to move! We have a few big fights that need to happen in a small amount of space, so the question was how to evoke a sense of violence and danger within the confines of the playing space, while still keeping our actors safe.

The second challenge comes about because of this purposefully anachronistic piece.

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Mick on top of the world with Ryan McCurdy

Because of the mix of contemporary and Shakespearean text, as well as music and poetry, what kind of physical vernacular works alongside those in a seamless way? In short – If we’re fusing so many different kinds of written storytelling, what kind of weaponry are we using and what style of fighting? I didn’t want it to be too classical in nature, but still pay homage to the source material of Romeo and Juliet, while staying rooted in the modern exploration Laura Hirschberg has committed to. What we have ended up with is pretty exciting, in my humble opinion… 2 handed combat, mixing small swords and knives, with influences of street-fighting, rapier work, Asian sword-play, superhero video games… While taking inspiration from such varied sources, it ends up being extremely specific and unique to this world.

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Bleyer with DeLisa M. White and Jacob Owen

Now, as an actor, I’m having so much fun with Ben. First of all, it’s a dream-cast – I’m crushing so hard on these folks. And with such a smart script, it makes the work come easily – the relationships are beautifully written, so we’re already starting in a great place. Christine Verleny and I have worked together a number of times, so jumping into the flirty courtship between Ben and Quickly has been such a blast! As for the Bromance between Mercutio, Romeo and Benvolio, I couldn’t ask to work with a better pair of actors. Ryan McCurdy (Mercutio) and Jacob Garrett Owen (Romeo) are giving, communicative, and hysterical – sometimes, to a problematic degree! It feels like we’ve known one another for some time, so there isn’t much emotional fabrication in terms of our on stage relationships.
What I found so intriguing about this piece is the need for multi-faceted story-tellers – through words, music, movement, we are being asked to tap into so many different skill sets. Pick up a guitar then a sword, recite some Auden or Shakespeare or original Hirschberg, deliver some comedy gold and then break some hearts… It’s compelling, moving, and incredibly human. What else can you ask for from live theater?
*Photo courtesy of Larry Hamilton/BLUE Headshots
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2 thoughts on “Take That! Mick Bleyer on Stage Combat

  1. Pingback: Front Row Center Loves VERONA WALLS | ShopTalk

  2. Pingback: VERONA WALLS | The Front Row Center

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