In Outcry Theatre's Hearts Like Fists, a group of female-vigilante Crimefighters take on the evil Doctor X, who injects poison into the hearts of sleeping lovers. Leading the Crimefighters into battle both literally and figuratively is Rhonda Durant, who doubles as Fight Choreographer and head Crimefighter Sally.
In a new series of blog posts, we'll be asking 3 questions of the artists involved in producing Adam Szymkowicz's Hearts Like Fists, which plays March 19 - 29 at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. Rhonda Durant, never afraid, agreed to go first.
1. How did you get into fight choreography?
I was a gymnast for about ten years when I was younger, so I have always been athletic and very aware of my body. Because of this, if a role emerged that required a female who could pick up on fight choreography quickly, I was often cast in them. As an actor I got a lot of 'on the job' training, as it were this way. One of these roles was an Opera by the name of Kashche the Immortal, with Millennium Opera Company. They needed someone who who could handle a sword while singing high notes. The director and I became good friends after that, and she invited me to go with her to a Stage Combat Training weekend in Louisiana, and I decided to try to try it out. I have been training in various disciplines since then. A couple of years ago a friend was directing a play and the guy he usually looked to for choreography was unavailable, so he asked me to step in. Since then I have worked on several film sets, and stages all over DFW.
2. What excites you about the stage combat in Hearts Like Fists?
It is very rare to come across a script where a woman gets to do any fight choreography at all, let alone 4 who get to look like bad asses at that! Being able to play with such an interesting style of combat on top of that really lets you get very creative in a way that I often don't get to. These are strong, powerful women who work together as a team and really back each other up. It's excited to help create that dynamic on stage for the audience to experience it.
3. Have you ever been in a real life fight?
I have never gotten into a 'real fight', persay, but I did almost break my husband's nose when we were first married. You see, most people have what you call a 'fight or flight reflex.' If in danger and your adrenaline kicks in quickly, your 'lizard brain' turns on, and your 'rational brain' shuts down. I do not have fight or flight. I have what I call 'punch and run.' One good hit and I am out the door. I will survive the horror movie. During the first week living together in his apartment after we had gotten married, I had accidentally scared him multiple times. I was not intentionally sneaking up on him, but I am very light on my feet. He decided to get revenge one day by hiding in the hallway on top of the dryer and waiting until I walked by so he could pop out and scare me. His plan worked in one way: I was scared. 'Lizard brain' turned on and 'rational brain' turned off and I popped him in the face. I had some Muay Thai [a combat sport] under my belt at this point so I knew how to land a punch. I was out the door and halfway through the parking lot before my 'rational brain' alerted me that I had just hit my husband. He still knows better than to sneak up on me.
For tickets to see Rhonda and the rest of the Crimefighters kicking butt at the Margo Jones Theatre, click here.