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DuVal practices with students 

Summer Vacation Opens Doors to New Skills 

As students and faculty are busy settling into the school year routine, Assistant Professor of Theatre Chris DuVal is wrapping up his summer to offer more opportunities to University students.

DuVal earned accreditation and offered his first Society of American Fight Directors workshop for two students this summer and is wrapping up stage fighting work at the Dallas Theatre Center, a major regional theater in Dallas, Texas, for their productions of “King Henry IV,” Part I and II.

With the accreditation, he now can teach students in the art of stage fighting through the Society of American Fight Directors and with Dueling Arts International – two of the country’s most widely recognized and respected organizations in the discipline of theatrical violence and movement. The goal of both organizations is to train actors/combatants teachers and fight director how to safely perform, teach students and direct fights.

“It opens the door for a higher recognition of what we do here and it gives students another national level of recognition,” says DuVal. “We’ll also have the rare opportunity to bring in professionals who have worked in the highest level of film and stage around the country to adjudicate.”

DuVal says safety is an important part of making fight scenes look real on stage – especially since most plays have or have the potential for a fight scene. He adds that knowing good movement skills also enhances a performance.

Both organizations offer a nationally respected recognition for passing a skills test that incorporates the unity of the actor’s craft – body, voice, text and imagination.”  That test is performed in front of a Fight Master, who adjudicates the test, and offers master classes to the students who are testing.

As part of the test, students perform a scene that demonstrates weapons proficiency combined with dramatic tension and performance. Categories include: unarmed, rapier and dagger, single sword, broadsword, quarterstaff, small sword, shield and sword and knife. To be eligible for the test, students must have a prescribed set of training hours.

With the training, DuVal plans to incorporate his teacher certification into the classroom. That training includes not only stage combat, but movement and voice. He also has received a seed grant from the University to purchase tumbling mats, theatre training masks, and additional weapons to continue the development of the movement and voice training within the BFA and MFA acting curriculum.

It was through his previous work with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and his accreditation in the Society of American Fight Directors and with Dueling Arts International that DuVal is spending the first weeks of the semester fight directing in Dallas.

“They’re combining parts I and II together to create a super battle,” says DuVal. “There’s a lot of action, it should be a good challenge.”

While he’s out for the first few weeks, DuVal is hoping his time in Dallas is well spent by not only practicing his craft, but he hopes to foster a possible future connection for Idaho students. But, he is anxious to return home and put his skills to good use.

“After 11 years as a company member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this is my new artistic home. I absolutely love it here and I am looking forward to continue contributing to the department and the students,” says DuVal. “There’s so much depth to movement and voice training for the actor.  I am passionate about the training of the actor and equally passionate about how these disciplines resonate and help develop in students an increased perception, compassion and connection with each other as artists and – more importantly perhaps, as human beings. Students learn to exceed far beyond their expectations of themselves.”

As one of the new co-artistic directors of the Idaho Repertory Theatre, DuVal also is hoping to eventually offer master classes to bring more people to Moscow for the summer.