The Ottumwa Courier

June 21, 2013

Fight choreographer teaches with safety first

ANDY GOODELL
Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Jason Tipsword knows a thing or two about the action-packed moments in plays like William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Tipsword, a Society of American Fight Directors-certified fight choreographer, was on hand to teach at Rocket Summer Theatre held at George Daily Community Auditorium. He taught young students about stage combat and theatrical violence. Don’t worry — there’s a big emphasis on safety when teaching these techniques, noted Tipsword.

While at George Daily Auditorium for three afternoons, Tipsword will be teaching a lot of the “nuts and bolts” of stage combat to students. Part of this includes scene work with the Shakespeare classic “Romeo and Juliet.”

“It’s a story that works really well with young people because it’s about young people,” he said.

Tipsword has been around professional and semi-professional theater for his entire life. At 14, he took up fencing while at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch. Tipsword also taught at this school for seven years after college.

So, how did Tipsword end up bringing together his theater and fencing experiences?

Tipsword explained that somewhere in his mid-20s he began performing professionally on the Renaissance festival circuit.

“So, that gave me the idea that the two things could happen together,” he said, adding that this is when he discovered the SAFD for the first time.

Today, Tipsword is the Mid-America Regional Representative for SAFD.

Tipsword spent three summers in SAFD’s flagship program, The National Stage Combat Workshop.

SAFD teaches eight movement disciplines, with a good deal of sword play and other weapon work, explained Tipsword. Again, these skills are taught with safety at the forefront.

This past summer, Tipsword completed the Teacher Certification Workshop, which enables him to teach.

This fall, he’ll be teaching at the University of Iowa’s Masters Acting program, said Tipsword.