IU professor behind swordplay in Theatre and Drama production of 'The Three Musketeers'
One of the techniques Adam Noble, an assistant professor of movement and combat in IU's Department of Theatre and Drama, employs to create an epic onstage sword fight is the CRAP method.
CRAP stands for "cue," "reaction," "action" and "pose." Done in rapid succession, the series of movements create the illusion of violence for audience members but ensure the safety of those onstage.
Noble served as fight director for the Department of Theatre and Drama's production of The Three Musketeers, which opens Friday, Nov. 11, at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center.
Choreographing fighting onstage, particularly in a production with as much swash and buckle as The Three Musketeers, requires a great sense of timing.
"In one battle, we have nine people onstage and there's not a lot of space to fight," he said. "There's a huge ballet of bodies that has to ensue, which is a big challenge for me, figuring out the timing of the fights. It was chess."
Such careful planning is overlaid with the serendipity of working with live actors, who Noble said often offer their own thoughts about a particular movement.
"In rehearsal, those little touches come to life," he said.
Noble began martial arts training at the age of 6, and continues to study various disciplines. A trained stuntman, he got his start choreographing fights while a student at the University of California, Berkeley, thanks to his knowledge of 16th-century fencing. He's a member of the Actors' Equity Association and is a certified teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors. He's taught stage combat both nationally and internationally, and choreographed the violence for more than 80 stage and film productions.
His mentors, Steven Pearson and Robyn Hunt, studied with Tadashi Suzuki before bringing their own "Physical Approaches to Performance" to the U.S. The physicality of such an approach drew Noble out of himself as an actor.
"When I'd work on a character, being so much in my head, nothing came out on stage. I knew what they had for breakfast and their dog's name, but that wasn't helping me on stage," he said. "The physical training just blew the top of my head off. It really sort of cracked me out of myself."
In conjunction with the opening of The Three Musketeers, Noble will discuss and demonstrate the fighting styles and swordplay used for the production at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in the Studio Theatre of the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center. "Fighting the Good Fight" is presented by Theatre Circle, the member-driven donor group that supports the programs of the Department of Theatre and Drama.