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Local Stage Performers Learn The Fine Points Of Dramatic Swordplay

A woman and a man stand in a grassy field holding sticks in a sword fighting stance as another man looks on.
Tom Flanigan
Milton Derek Nieves (in the background) guides the students through the intricacies of staging sword fights that, while looking dangerously authentic to the audience, keep the performers safe.

The fine art of dramatic swordplay was being taught in the front yard of Tallahassee's Goodwood Museum and Gardens Saturday, July 24. It was hosted by the Southern Shakespeare Company.

The instructor for the occasion was M. Derek Nieves. He noted performing a realistic - but safe - onstage swordfight takes a lot of skill and practice.

"There's got to be the same breathing and concentration and love that goes into learning a soliloquy that goes into crossing swords so that the audience will have the same journey through the fight that they would through the monologue, but also so the safety and integrity of the piece can happen."

Southern Shakespeare's Communications Director Bianca Montague agreed there's a lot more to it than just randomly clashing swords together.

"What everyone learned today is a much more precise art form than that. You've got to really know what you're doing. So, hopefully, we gave everyone the building blocks to learn that skill."

And at least reduce the number of painfully amateurish and bogus-looking swordfights that have often plagued the area's dramatic performances.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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