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And action! DMU alumnus teaches stage combat skills to Drama students

Action! Drama Studies students got some expert fight scene tuition from a former graduate turned actor and fight director.

Kiel O’Shea, who graduated with a First from DMU in 2009, is not only carving out a career as a professional actor, he is increasingly in demand for his skills as a fight director.

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And this month, he returned to DMU for the first time since graduating to run a workshop for students studying the Shakespeare module. They were working on the King Lear scene in which Edgar kills Oswald and finally discovers his brother Edmund’s treachery.

Waving rubber knives, they learned to block, co-ordinate moves and put together a short fight routine which they performed at the end of the session.

“It’s great to be back at DMU, I have good memories of my time here,” said Kiel, who is enrolled with the British Academy of Dramatic Combat, the UK’s leading trainers of safe and dramatically effective performance combat.   

“The students are doing really well, especially considering that what I have been teaching was a bit more intense than I’d normally expect. There’s been lots for them to pick up and concentrate on.”

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Kiel went on to do a MA in Acting in London’s Arts Educational Schools, where he got his first taste of stage combat. He went on to enrol in the BADC’s prestigious apprenticeship teaching programme which he is set to complete this year. He is also a historical interpreter and fighter at the Tower of London.

“I first did stage combat in London and loved it, it’s so much fun. As an actor, I found I’d be doing a lot of fight scenes because I was getting cast in these villainous roles and I wanted to make sure that the fights were realistic but done safely, so I enrolled with the BADC. The more I did the more I loved it and now I’m an apprentice teacher.”

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Last year, he was fight director on stage productions William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead by John Heimbuch and Dry Land. He is also in demand for films and has been a stunt swordsman and performer in the 2014 film Myrddin (Merlin) and earlier this year was in Wales filming a Viking horror film.

“I spent January getting killed about 100 times,” he laughed.   

Drama Studies lecturer Elinor Parsons said they were delighted to be able to welcome Kiel back for the special session.

She said: “With Shakespeare a lot of the stage directions are embedded in the dialogue, so students will get a new appreciation of the text through this class.”

DMU’s Shakespeare academics are involved in this year’s celebrations marking the anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.

Posted on Thursday 31st March 2016

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