September 26, 2011

Featured MFA: Britain Willcock

Britain Willcock is a third-year MFA in Acting student who is currently immersed in rehearsals for his thesis role - Porthos, in Ken Ludwig's adaptation of The Three MusketeersThe Three Musketeers is being directed by Dr. Michael Kirkland and features the work of Hollywood Fight Director Richard Ryan.  Britain is excited for the role for many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity to use some of the extensive combat training he's received since coming to Regent.  Here's what Britain had to say about it:

"When I began my M.F.A. experience here at Regent University little did I know that a passion would be unearthed in me by Dr. Michael Kirkland. One of the unique aspects of Regent University's M.F.A. program is its emphasis in stage combat due to Dr. Kirkland's affiliation with the Society of American Fight Directors. Utilizing his training as a Certified Teacher, he has integrated required stage combat classes into the curriculum. Through three semesters of combat (Unarmed, Rapier and Dagger and Broadsword/Quarterstaff) I developed a deep love and passion for this 'illusion of violence' within the theater. It combined my love for sports and physical fitness with the creative world of the theater. Under Dr. Kirkland's tutelage I have attended two Regional SAFD events (Virginia Beach Bash) and tested in all four weapons to achieve 'Actor Combatant' status with the SAFD. My new-found passion then drove me to seek out further training. At the 2011 Virginia Beach Bash I met Fight Master Richard Ryan who opened my eyes to the National Stage Combat Workshop and advised me to consider attending.

Britain at the National Stage Combat Workshop
So, on June 19th, 2011, I left for Winston-Salem, NC to study for three weeks with some of the best Fight Choreographers in the world. The workshop can only be described as a stage combat boot camp as the Advanced Actor Combatant section worked six days a week from 9 a.m. till about 10 p.m. The first week was spent performing SPRs (Skills Proficiency Renewals) in which each day we found a new partner, learned a fight, found and memorized a scene and performed that very evening. The following two weeks allowed us to learn three new weapons (Knife, Smallsword, Sword & Shield) in which we tested on July 8th. While Fight Master Richard Ryan was the head of the Advanced section, we had the pleasure of also working with Fight Masters K. Jenny Jones, Allen Suddeth, and David Wooley. At the end of the workshop I had earned the status of 'Advanced Actor Combatant', had tested in 7 of the 8 weapons receiving a 'Recommended Pass' in 5, and had won the National Stage Combat Workshop award for 'Best Fight Scene.' Ultimately, the experience was an incredible exploration into the world of acting conflicts. Not only has this experience motivated me to become more physically fit and to seek out further training, it has also had a great impact on my acting. Exploring the motivations and actions that lead to physical conflict has clarified my understanding of 'being in the moment' and the idea of being 'made to do' something (concepts set forth in our Meisner-based actor training.)

I feel honored to have studied here at Regent with Dr. Kirkland and am forever thankful for his passion for the world of stage combat and his students. Thanks to him I have become a better actor, athlete, and have found a new love that I plan to pursue further in the future."

Come experience the stage combat technique of Britain and the other accomplished actors in The Three Musketeers, which runs on the Main Stage from October 14 - 23.  Call the Box Office for tickets (757) 352-4245.

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