Tag Archives: stage combat

Students learn self-confidence in Stage Combat

By Mark Haiko and Soren Ryan-Jensen

Staff Writers

From fighting ghosts to dueling with longswords, Stage Combat is an Expeditions class that delves into the art of fighting on stage. In the class, students design skits to play out for different projects.

Stage Combat teacher Keith Brown said finding new ways of expressing yourself and experimenting are the backbone of this class.


Stage Combat students practice a fight scene skit. PHOTO CREDIT: Soren Ryan-Jensen

“I learned a lot about Shakespeare and staged choreography, and I do a lot of, like, productions,” Denali sophomore Kyle Kobetsky said. This class focuses on building basic acting techniques and getting used to performing on a stage.

“It’s a resume builder — knowing stage combat is a way that is something that not everyone learns and it’s a way to make yourself stand out,” Mr. Brown said. He believes performing more roles gives students more flexibility and makes it easier to get a career in theater.

See below for a video about the Stage Combat course:

Featured image (at the top of this post): Students practice their longsword skills. PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

Tahoma students explore new talents in Stage Combat class

By Omar El-Bandrawy and Caden Vu

Staff Writers

Stage Combat is a performing arts class that allows students to step out of their comfort zone with the respect of their peers and their teacher. This class teaches students about how fight scenes in movies and plays are done without endangering actors, but this isn’t the only aspect of the course. Stage Combat provides detailed insight into history’s most profound playwrights and techniques used on stage for plays. Some figures mentioned in the course are Shakespeare and Augusto Boal; the course also covers European sword fighting techniques.

“I designed my theater class to be a chance for people to try something new. It’s really rare for people to one, try to do any gymnastics and be upside down or try stage combat and to actually act out a fight scene … but it’s also a chance for people to be uncomfortable. There are people that are like, ‘Oh, I’ve never done this before, I’ve never been in front of a crowd learning how to present. Learning how to step out of your comfort zone and try something new,” Stage Combat teacher Keith Brown explained.

Tahoma sophomore Herschel Marcelo said the classroom culture helps achieve the course goal of pushing students out of their comfort zone: “This classroom is a very open-minded environment that is very suited to the way I learn. The teacher creates a very supportive learning environment where my peers won’t judge me for trying new things.”

See below for a video about the Stage Combat course:

Stage Combat course emphasizes trust and fighting techniques

By Deandra Han, Jennifer Rico and Karla Tran

Staff Editors

Stage Combat instructor Keith Brown teaches students fighting choreography, commonly known as stage combat, where they illustrate the illusion of physical fighting without causing harm to one another. Students get to use materials such as fake props to perform their acts live in class. This Expeditions class is not a UC-approved course; it is a pass/fail course.

Mr. Brown said, “I built my class to be a opportunity for students to try new things – specifically trying new theater techniques that some people probably have never done before. Trying to tell a story in a way they might not have tried before, in a way to get them out of their comfort zone. Trying something completely new and being used to being in discomfort so they can actually expand it out.”

Rainier sophomore Josh Macis shared, “We learned how to a stage roll, stage punch, stage push, and we just learned like all these different techniques, like how to, like, act in a safe way, so no one gets hurt. We learned how to have trust between your co-actor. In order to do these things you need trust with them. It kinda, like, builds trust as well.”

Taking this class builds trust with fellow performers; the staged or choreographed scenes look intriguing with dramatic, funny or serious performances. Next year the name of this course is changing to Experimental Theater, so look out for that new title in the course catalog!

See below for a video about the Stage Combat course:

Performing Arts teach us humanity

By Evelyn Archibald

Staff Writer

“The most important thing any kind of arts can teach,” Stage Combat and College Readiness instructor Keith Brown says, “is what teaches us humanity.”

Stage Combat, an acting class focusing on combat and physical communication on stage, is the only performing arts class currently offered at Summit Shasta, but maybe that should change.

While, as Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times writes about, teaching the arts does not by association improve scores or grades in other subjects, that’s not all that’s important. “Science without humanity is just experimentation, in my opinion. Math without humanity is just numbers with nothing behind it,” Mr. Brown says.


Stage Combat students stage a fight scene. PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

“We’re learning about humankind. […] you’re seeing emotions, you’re seeing situations.”

Summit schools like Shasta try to build community advocates and leaders with skills like compassion, self and social awareness, resilience and identity. Performing fosters these skills intensely: learning to know and be comfortable in your own body, looking inside yourself and your emotions, working with others as one unit, taking constructive feedback, advocating for yourself and being confident in your talents.

“I think more than anything else, seeing the willingness to put themselves in uncomfortable conversations, […] talking about ways that you can feel like something is holding you back or putting you down, it can be really hard to have that kind of conversation and be honest,” Mr. Brown said on the growth he’s witnessed in his students. “It can be really hard to be in front of a crowd and speak with any kind of confidence or authority. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is seeing that confidence come out of people, and the joy that can come from finding your voice.”


Stage Combat teacher Keith Brown PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

Benefits of the arts in education have been studied and witnessed many times, even finding motivation to stay in school might be linked to art and music classes. But how easy is it to just add curriculum?

Lucretia Witte, dean of Expeditions for Summit Schools, explains how the Expeditions process works: “To sum it up, there are about six departments: STEM, Arts and Design, Business and Media, Health and Fitness, Future Planning and Leadership and Society. We try to have at least two options for each of those departments, and we survey students to find out what they would be interested in.” She went on to explain the staffing process: “To find staff, we don’t hire for a specific course title, just someone who is passionate about working with us, and who would be doing what they love. We also try to keep staff in a local job; so, for example, if someone lives in San Francisco and wants to teach in Health and Fitness, we would try to put them in one of our Northern schools.”


Dean of Expeditions Lucretia Witte PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

“It can be harder to find folks who are very talented and also passionate about the job,” Ms. Witte said about performing arts teachers, and that makes sense. With arts classes commonly being the first to get cut when budgets are tight, and as only 10 percent of art graduates become working artists, and only 16.8 percent of working artists are educators, it’s not a surprise that passionate drama or music teachers can be hard to find. Especially when you want local teachers in the community, like Summit schools strive to hire. However, Ms. Witte said the Expeditions team is trying to hire teachers for classes like Dance or Music in the Northern schools like Shasta, which could open up many opportunities for Shasta students to pursue the performing arts.

Another matter to consider is after-school programs, such as a play or musical, a dance company, chorus or marching band, choir, and others. Lots of schools offer these types of programs, but at Shasta, the way these get started is a little different.


Dean of Culture and Instruction at Summit Shasta Adelaide Giornelli PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

“It’s a question of budget, and it’s also a question of who would run it,” Adelaide Giornelli, Shasta dean of culture and instruction, said. “Right now, all of our clubs are student-organized, student-advocated-for, and student-led. So if a student wanted to start a musical theater company or a choir, or an a capella group – which we actually have had in the past – the student would then have to fill out a proposal for a club, get approval, and then we would be able to provide supports as we could.”

See below for a video about the Stage Combat class: