Stunts hit with young actors

Tumbling, tackling, flying kicks and fake slaps

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 07:59 17/01/2014
Stunt
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

HARD HITTING: Gabriella Lewis, 13, gives Phoebe Allen, 13, a shake-up during Centrepoint Theatre's summer school stage combat class.

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Tumbling, tackling, flying kicks and fake slaps - it was all on at Centrepoint Theatre's summer school as some of Palmerston North's aspiring young actors struck out during stage combat classes.

About 15 secondary school students have been spending part of their school holidays in the theatre's back rooms practising various forms of acting this week.

So far they've tackled musical theatre, improvisation, short skits developing characters and storylines, as well as tips for television, radio and stage acting and what to do in auditions.

Yesterday stage combat was on the agenda, with stunt trainer Joe Lumsden - known for his tricks atop a galloping horse with his Rough Rider Stunt Team - giving a 101 of "realistic" warfare.

The trick was to create the illusion of physical combat without causing harm to other performers, Mr Lumsden said.

He lists body movement, eye contact and follow-through actions, like screams, screeches, cries of pain and cowering in fear as tools to convince the audience of the action.

He then calls a class member up front for a demo and, after whispering an explanation to her, wraps a stock whip around a girl's neck, she grabs it and tumbles forward to cheers from her classmates.

"If they're going to pursue an acting career they need to know about stage fighting," Mr Lumsden said.

Aspiring actress Gabriella Lewis, 13, from Feilding High School, said it had been a hands-on week where she'd learnt a lot.

"I didn't think it would be as serious or as exciting as this - I just expected some drama games, but it's actually been so helpful.

"A lot of people here, we didn't know each other beforehand, but now we've made so many friends because we're all in the same boat."

Gabriella has dreams of gracing the small screen one day as a TV star.

"I think if you take acting seriously, and are really dedicated to it, I think it can be a good career choice."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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