2nd Edition

Actors on Guard
Training, Rehearsal and Performance Techniques with the Rapier and Dagger for the Stage and Screen

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after July 22, 2021
ISBN 9780367859183
July 22, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
464 Pages 453 B/W Illustrations

USD $49.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Actors on Guard Second Edition is the most comprehensive book covering the current practices in learning, rehearsing and performing safe and dynamic swordfights with the single rapier and the rapier and dagger for both stage and screen.

Focusing specifically on the Elizabethan rapier and dagger – the most popular weapons used in stage fights – Actors on Guard provides actors, directors, teachers, stage managers and technicians the skills and knowledge essential to presenting safe and effective swordfights. The book takes the reader through the complex process of selecting safe stage weapons, learning the basic handling and management of the rapier and dagger, as well as how to safely move and interact in the potentially dangerous process of learning, rehearsing and performing choreographed swordplay. This new edition has been revised with current industry practices, featuring hundreds of step-by-step practical exercises in the care and handling of prop swords, footwork, guards, parries, cutting and thrusting techniques, blade taking actions, disarms, wounds and kills using the rapier and dagger, with revised diagrams and photographs.

An excellent sourcebook for university stage combat classes as well as self-learners, Actors on Guard provides the reader with the historical, theoretical and practical basis for mastering the art of sword fighting for the stage and screen.

The book includes access to a wealth of online resources, from video demonstrations of solo and partnered techniques and exercises to additional information that expands upon specific mechanics, techniques and concepts covered in the text.

Table of Contents

Part A. Foundations of Technique 1. Safety First! 2. Stance & Footwork 3. Arming the Actor Part B. The Single Rapier 4. Getting the Feel of Steel 5. The Guards of the Single Rapier 6. Cut & Thrust 7. The Parries of the Single Rapier Part C. Engaging the Blades 8. Crossing Swords 9. Evasive Actions 10. Attacking the Blade 11. Deceits & False Play 12. Closes & Grips 13. Wounds & Kills Part D. The Rapier & Dagger 14. Adding the Dagger 15. Guards of the Rapier & Dagger 16. Parries of the Rapier & Dagger 17. Offensive Actions with the Dagger Part E. Moving from Page to Stage 18. Acting the Fight 19. Preparing to Fight 20. Crafting the Fight 21. Performing the Fight

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Dale Anthony Girard is an award-winning Fight Director, Choreographer and Stunt Coordinator. A Third-Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo/Hopkido and Haidong-Gumdo, he is a Fight Master with the Society for American Fight Directors (SAFD), a SAG-AFTRA stunt coordinator and stunt performer and founding member of the North Carolina Stuntmen’s Association (NCSA). Mr. Girard spent five years on the faculty at the National Theatre Conservatory and has been the resident Fight Director for Yale's prestigious School of Drama and School of Music's Opera Program. He is currently the Director of Stage Combat Studies at the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts.


"When you watch a Dale Girard sword fight, your hair stands on end. In our Macbeth, the fights ranged from wild and animalistic to swift, cool, and lethal. Every blow was motivated and the audience was drawn into the story of each fight. I've seen Dale render a deafening, stage-filling battle… and a chilling moment when Macbeth audibly broke his victim's arm and gutted him with his own sword (the audience shrieked and clawed their seats). Dale's repertoire of moves and principles — and safety practices — puts him at the top of his game."

Teller (Penn & Teller)