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2nd January 2012

Canterbury Tales

An oldie but a goodie
ID Fight Choreographer Ronin Traynor created the fights for Tacit Theatre’s Christmas and new year production of the Canterbury Tales. Directed by Juliane Von Sivers, the show transformed Southwark Playhouse’s main house into a fully functioning tavern.

The landlord of the tavern, Harry Bailey (John Canmore), having met many a pilgrim whilst in Canterbury decides to share the tales he has heard, engaging a troupe of performers to act out the stories for the audience.

The stories combine elements of old English, live music, story-telling, general mischief and of course the odd bit of violence.

The audience were situated in the round within the actual performance space, which included a multi-level platform in the centre of the room. While devising the fights, consideration had to be taken not only for the hazards of the set but also the possibilities of audience members haphazardly leaving their seats to go to the bar for the duration of the show as this was the established norm for the tavern setting throughout the play. This had a bearing on what weapons could be used and it was decided from a safety and artistic perspective to use bits of musical instruments as live music was a key feature of the show. This created an interesting challenge for the actors in terms of endowing the instruments with the characteristics of swords and shields rather than found objects and then being able to switch back to establishing them as props at the appropriate moments.

In addition to a couple of murders and a rape scene, the main fight Ronin worked on was in The Knight's Tale. This tale featured a duel between Arcité (Harry Napier) and Palamon (Matt Salisbury) who fight over the fair maiden (Ellie Moore) "battling it out so violently that you fear for their safety, that is until you realise that they wield violin bows as weapons and cymbals as shields" - Lois Jeary from Exeunt Magazine.

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