Originally created 09/17/06

Teacher learns finer points of sword fighting



When Mark Gostomski auditioned for Shakespearean plays in college, he knew he would never get the lead role, and that was fine with him.

"I was always cast as a fighter," said Mr. Gostomski, a Beech Island resident and a teacher at John S. Davidson Fine Arts School. He spent part of the summer honing his sword-fighting techniques at a workshop with the Society of American Fight Directors at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

"I've always been interested in physical dialogue," said Mr. Gostomski, 28, who is working on his second bachelor's degree. He's majoring in drama at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

During his three weeks in Las Vegas, he spent about 12 hours a day in classes learning to use a rapier, dagger, broad sword, sword and shield and quarterstaff. There also were classes on unarmed combat.

Mr. Gostomski said he's done some training in sword techniques but this was his first workshop on stage fighting.

His ultimate goal, he said, is to be certified by the fight directors society as a teacher; however, he must master eight technique areas before he can receive the organization's seal.

Sword fighters are judged in areas such as safety and the ability to create a sense of danger in their choreographed battles. There also are technical aspects that must be mastered. Mr. Gostomski said he has fulfilled the requirements in the rapier and dagger category for his certification.

He has had the chance to use some of the things he learned about sword fighting in the past few weeks. In the Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre's upcoming performance of Moon Over Buffalo, actors Steve Walpert and Elizabeth Nelson- Walpert perform a short sword fight. Mr. Gostomski choreographed the scene and taught the actors how to make the fight look realistic.

He said his stage-fighting ability has improved markedly since his involvement in Davidson's production of Romeo and Juliet in March.

"I looked at Romeo and Juliet and realized how limited I was," he said. "I knew I had the technique, but now there's intention to it. I have an idea of why I'm fighting."

Mr. Gostomski said he plans to return to Las Vegas for more training.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.