5 minutes with Kidnapped Fight Director, Roger Bartlett

Posted on 6 May 2014

Anyone familiar with the story of Kidnapped will know that Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure novel isn’t short of a swashbuckling sword-fight or two! But how do these action-packed sequences translate onto the stage? We chat to Kidnapped Fight Director, Roger Bartlett to find out more about bringing the drama and conflict of Kidnapped to life on tour:

1. What are your responsibilities on Kidnapped?
I am the fight director for the show. My responsibility is choreographing the fight scenes and teaching the actors how to use the weapons and coaching them in the performance of the fights.

2. How do you go about choreographing a ‘Fight’ scene for a show like Kidnapped?
I start by reading the script and getting an idea of what kind of action is required. Then I always try to talk with the director and get an insight into what they are hoping for or what plans they have for the action. Then I put together some ideas that fit the story and the directors view of what should happen and take it to the actors.

3. Do you have a favourite sequence from the show?
Probably the training sequence. Alan is teaching Davy how to fight whilst they are on the run.

4. How did you first get into the industry/what inspired you to become a Fight Director?
I trained as an actor many years ago and stage combat was part of my training – as I think it should be for every actor. I just knew straight away that I over it and wanted to keep training and keep working with it.

5. How do you make sure actors (and audience members!) remain safe during fight scenes? What preparation is involved?
It basically comes down to practice and plenty of time in rehearsal to train the actors. We have to make sure the weapons are fit for use, we have to make sure the actors are comfortable and confident with all the action sequences and that the action fits onto the stage properly!! The cast go through a rigorous fight call before every performance where they work through the action slowly to make sure they are familiar with it and make sure they can fit it in to the space they are working in that day.

6. What is your favourite part of your job?
Being in rehearsal with the actors, working things out and having fun with what they can do. Bringing it all together and seeing them really take ownership of what they are doing. That for me is really exciting.

To see these swashbuckling scenes brought to life on stage, catch Kidnapped at the Belgrade Theatre from Tues 27 – Sat 31 May.