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Theatre Arts Hosts Tenth Annual Virginia Beach Bash

By Brett Wilson | March 22, 2013

SAFD Fight Master Michael G. Chin instructs a class on the intricacies of the small sword.
Photo courtesy of Michael Hill-Kirkland

The stakes are always high for actors in the competitive world of onstage and onscreen performing. But add free-falling and being set on fire to the job description, and the pressure certainly doesn't fade to black.

On March 16-17, Regent University's Department of Theatre Arts hosted its tenth Virginia Beach Bash, the regionally sanctioned workshop by the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD), held annually to help students of the theatre be en guarde for such stunts. Expert fight director, Richard Ryan, who has choreographed stunts and fights for famous films like Troy, The Dark Knight, and Sherlock Holmes, led the charge for the weekend-long combat event.

While the Virginia Beach Bash offered its classic courses on stunt training for high falls, harness stunts, firearms, and full-body burns, last weekend's event also allowed students to grab stunt opportunities by the wheel with its brand-new precision driving class.

Third year MFA in acting student, Ashley Dakin, was able to practice her favorite stunt—spinning a car 90 degrees—in the back lot of the Communication & Arts building with a professional driver during the class.

"I was nervous to try it, but it was so much fun once I did!" said Dakin.

This was the second time Dakin participated in the Virginia Beach Bash. She believes the knowledge she gains from these combat classes will help her become more marketable in her future pursuits as an actress.

"Something like this event allows me to connect with professionals in the industry and learn skills that could come in handy on a movie set," said Dakin.

Dakin was one of more than 70 Virginia Beach Bash participants, including Regent students and non-students traveling from as far as Canada and the United Kingdom.

While the intensive weekend guides actors through performing stunts onstage, it also offered courses on filming and editing action scenes, as well as how to incorporate sound into such acting sequences. Filmmakers who participated in this year's Virginia Beach Bash were able to receive guidance from professional directors, editors and sound designers.

"We have radically expanded what began as a stage combat only event into an impressive stage and screen combat event," said professor and resident fight-expert, Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland, who founded and directs the program each year. "This year boasts the largest and most impressive staff we've ever had." According to Hill-Kirkland, this year's team consisted of 13 SAFD-certified teachers, including a former SWAT team instructor.

"Many of these classes would only be offered at stunt school, so it's nice to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Dakin. "I don't know if I'll ever have the chance to take these kinds of classes again, especially with such well-known instructors."

Learn more about the School of Communication & the Arts.


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