South Carolina Children’s Theatre: Professional From the Word ‘Go’

Guest Fight Choreographer, Thomas Azar, brings life to a reimagined telling of Robin Hood
by: Margaret Butler

Azar 1 - South Carolina Children's Theatre: Professional From the Word 'Go'

SCCT’s modern adaptation of Robin Hood features all of the classic characters that you know
and love and sets them right in our backyard: the Appalachian mountains. The themes of
adventure, bravery, honor, family, and justice matched with fast-paced wit, professional local actors, and riveting stage combat raise the bar for children’s theatre in the Upstate.

Thomas Azar brings the Stage Combat up a notch
Thomas Azar, a local Upstate actor, joins SCCT for his artistic debut with the company. With an MFA in Classical Acting at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting in Washington, DC, Azar is no stranger to combat. His resume is chock-full of experience in unarmed combat, single sword, rapier and dagger, broadsword, quarterstaff, knife, and whip.

Robin Hood’s combat ranges from traditional “good vs evil” fights to lighthearted one-upmanship skirmishes. To Azar, it’s less about highly technical moves and more about fitting into the world of the show. “The characters in this telling of Robin Hood may not have extensive fight training, so how can we reflect that in the choreography?” Instead of using highly precise attacks and parries, anger might come through repeated motions and back and forth jabs,” Azar says. The characters exude an air of “I don’t need formal training to whoop you.”

Safety in Combat
The first rule of combat is safety. Azar works with Artistic Director Matt Giles to ensure that
safety takes priority in rehearsals. Azar says “every fight needs to be repeatable 8 times per
week. Actors need to know the moves and feel them in their body.” During combat, the fighters communicate through eye contact to ensure that each participant is ready and feels safe. “There is a line between ensuring safety and telling a convincing story. Walking that line for fight direction is where the artistry comes in.”

To make a fight “absolutely safe and totally gripping for the audience takes time.”
From the conceptualization to rehearsal time, choreographing each fight takes upward of 12-15 hours. “Each character has a different skill level and repertoire of moves. The choreography needs to reflect this.” In rehearsals, Azar worked closely with the cast of Robin Hood to develop genuine moments to define each character and relationship. Azar’s collaboration with the cast gives the actors ownership of their movements and helps the story come alive. “When actors suggest something that works, I exclaim, ‘Yes, of course – I love it.’ It puts a big smile on my face when actors help complete the puzzle.”

Professional from the Word ‘Go’
Before stepping in the building, Azar was already impressed with SCCT’s strong reputation for safety, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Azar commends SCCT for “meeting the bar of professional theatre and far exceeding it in all aspects.”

Azar 2 - South Carolina Children's Theatre: Professional From the Word 'Go'

Robin Hood runs at South Carolina Children’s Theatre from January 28th – February 6th with show times at 10:30 am, 2:00 pm, 4:30 pm, and 7:00 pm, Tickets are $20. Box office: 864-235-2885 or scchildrenstheatre.org/robinhood