Dusten Welch, a member of the Society of American Fight Directors, is working with the cast of SBU Theater’s “Hamlet,” which runs Nov. 9-12 at St. Bonaventure University’s Garret Theater.
Welch hails from Cleveland, where he is an adjunct professor at Baldwin Wallace University. Welch has choreographed the fighting in “Macbeth,” “Othello,” “Treasure Island,” “Les Miserables,” “Frankenstein,” “West Side Story” and dozens more professional and university productions.
His choreography for fights in productions of “Romeo and Juliet,” and “The Two Noble Kinsmen” earned him certificates of merit from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
Welch will choreograph the fighting for SBU Theater actors Bryce Spadafora and Kevin Bradley as they develop their roles of Hamlet and Laertes. They will engage in more than 20 hours of training sessions and fight rehearsals before Hamlet opens on Nov. 9.
In addition, Welch offered on Oct. 1 a four-hour master class in single-sword combat open to the cast and crew of “Hamlet.” Attending the workshop were theater majors and minors Bryce Spadafora, Kevin Bradley, Taquan Brown, Betsy Vivar, Elizabeth Freeman, Nathan Hidalgo, Jeancarlos Aponte, and Breanna Grayson. Joining them were actor Matthew Tyssee, stage manager Jessica Cason, assistant stage managers MK Killen, Gabby Hurley, and Chernice Miller, recent SBU theater major and now a graduate student in English at SBU.
“Stage combat is a combination of hard work, precision and illusion,” Welch said to the students, as they parried and thrusted in the Theater Voice and Movement Lab in Butler Hall. “And, of course, safety. Safety is the most important thing.”
Welch holds certifications from the SAFD in several areas including theatrical firearms safety, knife, rapier and dagger, broadsword, single sword, unarmed combat and quarterstaff. Welch works closely with directors and actors to devise choreography that “grows organically out of the characters and blocking” already developing in the production.
“Dusten is a wonderful teacher and already has a very detailed sense of how very capable our students are, and what we’re working toward in our production of Hamlet,” said SBU Theater director Ed. Simone, who learned about Welch from SBU Theater’s technical director, Prof. Rebecca Misenheimer.
Welch had been one of her theater students before she came to SBU.
“I had been following Dusten’s career in fight choreography and thought he would be a good fit for our ‘Hamlet,’” said Misenheimer.
The few minutes of the intense sword dueling that ends “Hamlet” will take many hours of intensive work and practice, Simone said.
All shows are at 7:30 p.m. Reserved tickets are $8 for the public, $6 for students, SBU employees, and seniors. Free assigned student rush seating is offered (as available) beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the theater. One ticket per valid student ID in person only.
For reservations, call the Quick Center Box Office at 716-375-2494.
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