dying on stage.....

  • Andy Corelli

    Actor

    Hi all

    Does anyone know how to die effectively on stage?

    I am lightly pushed, stumble backwards onto hard stage and am supposed to hit my head on pointed floorboard thus killing me....yup i know....somewhat far-fetched possibly....

    We do not have fight director or choreographer.

    Small stage and there is a small cupboard (2 ft high) to my left and sligtkly behind.

    I would rather fall forwards so minimising risk to back etc, but alos wary of knees/joints etc..

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks

    Andy

    • 3rd Jun 2006
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    what play are you doing?

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 0
  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    hm difficult one! I guess just practice practise practise....... go through the motions slowly over and over again so that when it comes to doing it for real it looks natural as it is more muscle memory than anything else.........

    hmmmmmmmmmmm sorry that is probably no help.

    good luck!

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 1
  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    Always fall onto the areas of your body that offer more support.

    Thighs, bums, shoulders; these are very resilient areas compmared to knees, elbows etc.

    Mark.

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Andy Corelli

    Actor

    Mark - you asked which play I'm doing - this is new piece of writing so nothing to reference to I'm afraid. This is a ghost story drama called 'Pendulum'

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 3
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    I've died on stage many times!

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Craig Stevenson

    Actor

    Hi Mark,

    I do work as a fight chorreographer as well as an actor so I hope that this helps.

    Do you need to fall backwards? It is obviously easier and safer to fall forwards and indeed if you were only lightly pushed from the front the body's natural response would be to turn round (to protect your back) in the same way that a cat always lands on its feet. So if you are pushed from the front I would suggest that you twist as you fall (Either left or right whichever is more comfortable for you or whichever shows the fall better to the public). If you then raise your arms so that your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders (as if you were going to do a push up) you will be able to use your arms as shock absorbers to lessen the fall. Your hands hitting the floor will create quite a sound of impact plus any vocalisation that you want to add. Do NOT let your knees hit the stage first. This will haurt alot and can cause serious damage.When you hit the stage, if you snap your head back quickly and let it fall forward again onto your forarm (for safety) this will look, from the publics' perspective, like you have really hit you head. It will all happen very quickly so , as with all fights or falls, needs to be practiced over and over at a slower, controlled pace then you can build the speed up slowly and, most importantly, safely. Even when you've mastered the fall please be dilligent and practice it every night before the show as part of your warm up. It's important as it could mean the difference between you hurting yourself and you doing a realistc fall without hurting yourself in the process.

    I hope that this helps. If anything is unclear then please feel free to contact me. All the best. Take Care, Practice ... Be Safe.

    Craig

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 5
  • Andy Corelli

    Actor

    Hi Craig; that's really helpful stuff - thanks very much indeed. I'll get working on it straight away and it's good to have an image in your mind of what it might look like (ie the cat analogy). Is there a safe way to land on your hands without damaging wrists or is that just a risk but better than injuring your back? Andy

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 6
  • Craig Stevenson

    Actor

    Sorry ANDY,

    I got the names a bit muddled.

    Craig

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 7
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    with out knowing the script

    a idea i have is that at the point

    you die the lights go out we hear a fall

    lights come up and your dead

    that way you should'nt get hurt

    but its a bit of an old trick

    but good luck with it

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    and what mark said

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Andy Corelli

    Actor

    Don't worry - happens to me all the time! But thanks very much for your really helpful comments. I'm already practising! Kind regards. Andy/

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Andy Corelli

    Actor

    Mark - thanks for your comments too. I did suggest the same but the director didn't want to do it that way, which is fine, but just becomes a challenge to find a believable way to die!

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 11
  • Craig Stevenson

    Actor

    Hi Mark,

    Yes! The whole point of landing on your hands is to take the impact out of the fall. In the same way that a shock absorber works on a car when you land your hands hit first but the energy is dissapated through your arms as you continue to fall. The idea is that there is little or no real impact but a gradual deceleration. Of course this all happens so fast it is barely noticable (or that's the idea anyway).

    Glad to be of help

    All the Best

    Craig

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 12
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    I got beaten on stage once and have died many times - have also had trousers fall off in the middle of a song but I'm sure that would come under a different topic!

    Good luck. I'm sure you'll die brilliantly - landing on your bootocks is always good!

    Helen

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    where is the play showing? I would love to ome and see you die! oh that came out wrong... you know what I mean!

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Andy Corelli

    Actor

    How wonderful of you to want to sit through an entire production just to watch me die (: Well - it's on at Edinburgh for 2 nights only but both nights are already sold out! Not sure what the plans are after that but look out for reports in the Stage for "corpsing taken to new levels in death scene"!!!

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Thomas Matthews

    Actor

    Not meaning to question things but i've never been taught in any of my stage combat experience to absorb the shock through my hands. There are so many little bones that could quite easily snap etc and then, well you're screwed really. Of course you can slide your hands across the floor on a forward fall to control the fall. Also IMO a backwards fall is much safer as its practically a sitting down motion whereby you safeguard your hands by keeping them reaching forward. From what i gather though that would not be advisable if you are meant to actually hit your head on some wood, and most definately if that wood is pointed, which itself could be a hazard.

    Can i ask where and when you are rehearsing as I work alongside many people who choreograph for theatre and help train people for fight exams etc. It might be possible for one of us to come down and just have a look at the set-up and provide you with a few options, that's if we're available and you want peace of mind.

    Likewise if anyone out there is in any production and are faced with having to do a fight or fall and want advice please do not hesitate to get in touch as actors safety should always be a high priority and all too often people just hit each other or throw each other around for real not realising that you're going to have to repeat that night after night after night.

    Thom

    • 2nd Jun 2006
    • 16
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    Hmm maybe you could get in touch with a fight director.renny kupinski is very good he works on a lot of high profile stuff because there are certain ways of doing things that puts your safety first but looks effective. I'm not sure but maybe you could just get advice or ask for one class?some fight directors do open classes.that might be a plan.I'm surprised that you director isn't dealing with this.anywho good luck with the dying! x

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Keith Patrick

    Actor

    Hi Andy,

    I wish I could do some fall work with you. My heart goes out to you, mate. Directors always seem to want more! Then, that's part of the game.

    A few years back I used to wrestle professionally.

    It was the entertainment style hardcore stuff.

    During my time doing that stuff I won a light-heavyweight belt. How that really translates beyond the ring ropes I've no clue because nobody gets to take them home. they cost around £450 to make.

    The highest fall I took was from 10 feet after being thrown over the top rope and continued through the air, missing matting at ringside.

    The rules for landing from a fall where you're standing or from a small height are the same.

    Don't land on ANY joint.

    Don't land on your knees, elbows, hips, neck, shoulders, ankles, wrists, or your head.

    A tip: If falling backward, keep your chin tucked down and pointing to your chest and hold this position as you fall. The mouth is cleched shut.

    Alternatives include your head hitting the floor and maybe biting your tongue.

    I can't tell you WHAT to do, merely what to consider as reasonable things to avoid.

    Above all though, don't injure yourself by going beyond what you think you can do.

    Know you limits.

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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  • Thomas Matthews

    Actor

    I think Keiths main point is the crucial thing here. Don't do anythig you're not comfortable with, don't push your body too hard to make an effect and be brave enough to say no. You're in acting for life not for one play so ensure that what you do is safe and something you feel comfortable with.

    And just as you'd warm your voie up for a play make sure you warm your body up.

    Godd luck with it all!

    • 2nd Jun 2006
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