Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh Happy Dagger, This Is Thy Sh….SON OF A B$%^&*()!

Always check your props before going on stage.  You know, so you don’t accidentally use a real knife and damned near kill yourself.

Did anybody watch the HBO series “Oz”?  There’s a similar Shakespeare moment when the prisoners are performing Macbeth, and one prisoner takes out the other by switching a real blade for the fake.

By the way, the story linked above is not a Shakespeare play…but it is about Mary Queen of Scots, so I guess there’s a bit of a stretch connection :).

Bonus points for astute readers who remember this story about Brutus stabbing himself when a similar mixup occurred.


Bill said...

I'm a big Oz fan, and I loved the Macbeth storyline, particularly a running gag all through the last season. The prisoners were putting on a production of Macbeth and every time a prisoner got cast as Macbeth, he would get killed.

They never made reference to it on the show. They would just have a new prisoner playing Macbeth each time, and he would invariably get killed as part of the ongoing story line.

David Blixt said...

Yeah, this is a story that really made me angry. Because it should not have happened. Period. But I met with the director of this show earlier this year, and we discussed me working for her. The topic of stage combat came up, and she made a completely ridiculous statement - to the effect that stage combat was useless, and the only way to do a show was to "really fight."

No wonder this poor actor got himself hurt. His director is more interested in provocative emotion than in an actor's safety. The blade should NEVER have made contact with his skin, regardless of the switch.

I talked more about this yesterday on my own blog at

ren girl said...

@ David-- WOW. I...well, remind me to avoid that director.

That is pretty ridiculous, on several levels, one being why didn't the actor notice the prop was different? If it had a price tag on it still, it can't have looked all that identical. & if you notice it's different, maybe...don't slash your throat with it?

Also, stage combat, if done right, actually looks better than "real fighting," which gets far to messy to tell a good story. So I call total BS on that director. Good lord. (...I am very particular about stage combat...)

Duane said...

Remembering that I am entirely an audience member, having never set foot on the stage, here's my take on stage combat - make me believe it. Look, I know you're not *really* trying to kill each other, but every time I see a place where it's obvious -- where I can see the space between the punches, for example -- it's going to make it harder to suspend disbelief.

I watch professional wrestling. I realize that it's "fake". There are times when one guy misses the other guy by a mile. And there are other times when they pull off some move that makes you jump out of your seat and yell "DAMN! That's gotta hurt in the morning!" It's the same sort of thing for me with stage combat.

Having said that, there are a handful of very well known cases where professional wrestlers died because the stunt work was taken too far. So if I have to choose between seeing a realistic fight, and guaranteeing that nobody gets seriously hurt, well then I'm gonna go with guaranteeing that nobody gets seriously hurt. And doing things like having real knives on stage is just stupid.