Friday, October 16, 2009

Fight Choreographer

"I love fight scenes" Mark Weinberg exclaimed many times throughout our talk, and his creative energy and fondness for stage combat proves infectious. Mark, a fourth degree black belt karate instructor and UW-Milwaukee Theater Professor has been teaching for 36 years. A self-taught fight choreographer, he has coupled his vast theater teaching and directing experiences with the knowledge and discipline of his karate achievements to create exciting and memorable fight sequences for the stage.

Many details have to be minded when staging a fight, including first and foremost the safety and abilities of the actors. The goal is to create realistic looking movements that do not cause the audience to be worried for the safety of the actors, but allow them to believe the action that is seen.

For PICNIC, Mark needed to create fights that were appropriate and reasonable for the characters that were involved. They needed to be 'quick and simple' in look and able to be done on surfaces that were not flat, including on a large dirt mound and on the steps of one of the back porches that is featured in the set design. While the sequences are not long, they took much practice to make them appear natural, and Mark asks the actors to rehearse the fights before every performance to keep them consistent.

While it was challenging at times to split his time between UWM, rehearsals, and the Black Belt Leadership Academy that he owns in Wauwatosa, Mark has enjoyed the pleasure of working on PICNIC and the collaboration that he has been able to do with Michael Wright and the actors, who did a great job of modifying the movement to make it their own. Furthermore, he has enjoyed working with his wife, Jenny Wanasek, who plays Flo Owens in PICNIC. Not only will the time, talent, and training that Mark has dedicated himself toward be apparent, but his strong sense of family and collaboration will be unmistakably discernable through the work that he has created.

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