The Swords of Shakespeare

An Illustrated Guide to Stage Combat Choreography in the Plays of Shakespeare


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About the Book

Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Richard III and many other Shakespeare plays have at least one thing in common: fight scenes, usually with swords. This book is a step-by-step guide to choreographing stage combat scenes, particularly the principal duels (both comic and tragic) in Henry IV, Henry VI, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Cymbeline and The Two Noble Kinsmen. The safety and training of actors is also covered as well as a brief history of Elizabethan swordplay. The work includes 473 illustrations.

About the Author(s)

J. D. Martinez is fight master emeritus of the Society of American Fight Directors. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

J.D. Martinez

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 286
Bibliographic Info: 473 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013 [1996]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7609-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0600-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements      iv
Introduction      1
Principles Of Stage Fight Choreography      3
Ancient History Vs. Modern Practice      7
Safety And Training      11
A Brief History Of Elizabethan Swordplay      19


Henry IV, Part 1      29
Douglas vs. Blunt      29
Douglas vs. King Henry      32
Douglas vs. Prince Henry      37
Hotspur vs. Prince Henry      41

Henry IV, Part 2       51
Falstaff vs. Pistol      51

Henry VI, Part 1      54
Charles vs. Joan De Pucelle      54
Talbot vs. Joan De Pucelle      60

Henry VI, Part 2      70
Horner vs. Peter      70
Cade vs. Iden      75
Clifford vs. York      82
Richard vs. Somerset      86

Henry VI, Part 3      92
Richard vs. Clifford      92

Richard III      99
Richard vs. Richmond      99

Romeo and Juliet      109
Benvolio vs. Tybalt      111
Mercutio vs. Tybalt      120
Romeo vs. Tybalt      129
Paris vs. Romeo      134

Hamlet      139
Hamlet vs. Laertes      139

Troilus and Cressida      162
Ajax vs. Hector      163
Troilus vs. Diomedes      168
Troilus vs. Ajax and Diomedes      174
Archilles vs. Hector      180
Menelaus vs. Paris      184

Othello      191
Montano vs. Cassio      191

King Lear      199
Cornwall and Regan vs. Servant      199
Kent vs. Edmund      203
Oswald vs. Edgar      207
Edgar vs. Edmund      213

Macbeth      220
Macbeth vs. Young Siward      220
Macbeth vs. Macduff      224

Coriolanus      230
Coriolanus vs. Aufidius      230

Cymberline      239
Cloten vs. Guiderius      239
Jachicmo vs. Posthumus      245

The Two Noble Kinsmen      254
Palamon vs. Arcite      254

Glossary      263
Appendix I: The Society of American Fight Directors      265
Appendix II: Suppliers of Stage Weapons      266
Bibliography      267
Index      271

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “with so many provocative and useful materials…every theatre library, theatre practitioner, and performance scholar will want [this book]”—Shakespeare Bulletin
  • “an excellent resource for stage fight directors [and] anyone interested in Elizabethan swordplay”—Hammerterz Forum