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The Northwood Howler

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The Northwood Howler

Fight or Fight? A glimpse into combat choreography

Ashley Wang
SLAYING THE STAGE: Actors practice their dragon formation in fight call rehearsal.

It may come as a shock to see students attacking one another with daggers, swords and spears, but don’t panic: this is just part of the combat training students have undertaken for “She Kills Monsters,” the fall play opening Nov. 1. 

With 16 combat scenes, “She Kills Monsters” explores the physical and emotional turmoil of a game of “Dungeons and Dragons.” To perfect each scene, cast members have learned the art of fight choreography, using prop weapons to realistically depict fights while maintaining safety. 

Rehearsals are led by student fight captain junior Jane Wang and Ian Roettger, a professional combat choreographer from Los Angeles, who worked with Northwood on wand scenes in last year’s spring play, “Puffs,” as well as many other Northwood productions.

“We move from the fantasy world to the real world so these intricate movement pieces create the illusion of characters’ fighting monsters,” Roettger said. “It’s a specific discipline that requires a certain speciality to create the illusion, which is what I try to do as choreographer.” 

The initial three weeks of rehearsals focused on mastering the basics of fight combat without choreography so cast members would have a basic understanding of how to be part of a fight sequence. Later, prop weapons such as fencing swords, regular swords, daggers and spears were incorporated.

“When we started combat training, we used training swords, and it was difficult since we had to adjust to the weapon,” sophomore Kathleen Shumate said. “The combat director was able to guide us through it all.” 

Typically, a rehearsal starts with reviewing the scenes learned in previous rehearsals and then beginning to learn new choreography. Towards the end, Rotteger presents the cast with the creative liberty to self-choreograph scenes in pairs and groups.

“Whenever I see others during rehearsals, everybody looks so cool,” Shumate said. “It’ll look awesome on stage because these scenes make us look very experienced and overall make the show look put together.” 

“She Kills Monsters” runs through Nov. 4. Tickets can be found in @nhs.theatrearts bio on Instagram or

“Even if you’re not into the story, it’s really cool with all the combat and swords,” production stage manager junior Ryn Malloy said. “A lot of these people may be in your classes, so it’s cool to see them in a different light, chucking swords at other people’s heads.”

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About the Contributors
Megha Kishore, Staff Writer
Megha is a Northwood sophomore and staff writer for the Howler. Her favorite drink is a matcha latte which she thinks will cure her headaches that last 24/7. Some of her hobbies include reading if she ever finds the time for it or online shopping at 1 AM with no intent of actually buying anything.
Ashley Wang, Photographer
Ashley Wang is a photographer for The Howler. They enjoy poetry and watching Luca Guadagnino films at midnight. They have blue hair and pronouns.

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