[Blackfriars' Journal]

The On-Line Journal for Stage-Combat and Historical Swordfighting, sponsored by Skirmishers, the California-based theatrical combat performance group.

For on-line discussions of stage combat, fight choreography, historical fighting, and theatrical combat safety issues subscribe to the

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Table of Contents

  • Editor's Notes

  • UPCOMING WORKSHOP - The Virginia Tea Party


    April 24, 25, 26, 1998

    College of William and Mary
    Williamsburg, VA
    For Information & Registration: Call (757) 220-5033 or Email: ddoersch@machine1.hrfn.net

  • The Fencing School in Blackfriars by Linda Carlyle McCollum

          There is the common notion that Rocco Bonetti, Jeronimo, and Vincentio Saviolo had fencing schools in Blackfriars and were the fencers that Shakespeare would have come into direct contact with when Lord Chamberlain's Men occupied the theatre in Blackfriars. Recent publications continue to perpetuate this notion. A close look at the documented evidence raises some serious questions if this was true at all. (continue)

  • Skirmishing and the Theatre by Gareth Thomas

          Having begun to establish what is known here on the West Coast as Skirmishing, I have been approached by fencers and fight choreographers alike who all ask the same question: What are the benefits of such an activity?

          Modern fencers regard the techniques as "unsafe fencing" (i.e., moves too hazardous to be allowed on the strip.) Choreographers have asked how the seemingly unsafe distancing in Skirmishing could be beneficial to theatrical combat. (continue)

  • Classifications of Combat by J. Christoph Amberger

          Clearly, swordplay for artistic purposes and swordplay intended to dispatch an opponent as soon and swiftly as possibly not only have different objectives, but also demand a different mental approach from the fighter. In life-and-death fights, results were all that counted. This accounts for the importance of the botto secreta through all ages in which combat to the death was a more likely scenario than extended engagment in ritualized Olympic or Olympian environments. (continue)

  • Weapons of Macbeth by Rick Pazziol

          Those with a superstitious bent might refer to Macbeth that way, but by whatever name, it is always a powerful experience for an audience. Naturally, it has a special place in our hearts because of the number of shows we outfit each year. Interestingly, we only send broadswords to about half of the productions, since this is one of those wonderful shows that respond so well to different settings. We thought you might enjoy seeing some of the different weapons which we have sent out in order to match some very imaginative recent productions. (continue)

  • The Warrior and Taxes by Neil Fishman

          With the signing of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997(TRA), significant changes involve the U.S. taxpayer. However, it would not hurt to check the tax laws of many countries. A warrior and others need to take the offensive position. Some of the changes are as follows. (continue)

EDITOR'S NOTES: From the Staff (or at least the Quarterstaff):

This is Volume #1, Issue #1 of the "Blackfriars' Journal" On-line, which presently debuts as a quarterly electronic periodical designed to: 1) create a pool of information for those interested in Stage Combat and Historical Fighting, 2) extend and support discussions on the Stage Combat Mailing List, and 3) support those existing periodicals and associations dealing with those subjects. Printed periodicals often have the drawbacks of a small circulation, and locating a copy of a article of interest after-the-fact is sometimes difficult. "Blackfriars Online" will maintain an archival copy for future reference and easy accessibility. I'm hoping that, with everyone's support, this will develop into a monthly on-line journal.

This quarters issue pretty much sets the tone for future issues with a look at a variety of areas, from the history of the Blackfriars' as a fight school and theatre, which gives us an idea of how long the two fields have been related, to the various ways that "combat" breaks down in modern usage, excerpted from "The Secret History of the Sword", and the blend of those classifications of sword usage in Skirmishing and the Theatre, how one enhances the other. Also covering a range of time is a look at the stagings of "Macbeth" and finally something completely modern is the look new tax laws and their effect on the stage combatant.

I want to thank those who've contributored to the first issue and I'm already looking for articles that support the areas of staged combat for the theatre or the open arena, historical sword fighting and it's translation into usage today, and other elements of stage combat, such as: insurance issues, use and saftey of Gunpowder and other props, stunts beyond what we normally consider in stage combat, "true combat" in a modern world, and other issues that concern the actor, the reenactor, the swordfighter, the martial artist. As you can tell, I've already got an idea of where to go from here, but I'm also looking for suggestions on areas that are important to readers. If you have a submission, I look forward to reading it; if you have an idea for an article or only a question, I sure we can find the sources who have the answers. So good reading, and safe fighting.

-Cecily M. McMahan, editor

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Request for Submissions

To submit an article, letter to the Editor, or comment, send it to: Blackfriars' Journal.

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Last updated March 26, 1998. For questions on this site contact Cecily M. McMahan, Media & Marketing Director for Skirmishers.

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