Jason Armit knows how to take a punch and throw one back -- or at least pretend to. At the Atlanta Stage Combat Studio, the Atlanta actor, teacher and fight director can choreograph everything from Shakespearean sword duels to farcical slapstick to contemporary fights -- while always keeping safety first. Recently, Armit choreographed the torture scenes of ...," said Said at the Alliance Theatre Hertz Stage, and the lower-impact physical conflicts of Theatre in the Square's The Story.
How did you become a fight director?
When I was in college we had to take a stage combat class, and my adviser thought I was pretty good at it. I did some fight directing at school and, in 1996, trained with the Society of American Fight Directors. I moved to Atlanta in 1998 to work with Scot J. Mann, who started the Atlanta Stage Combat studio. When he went to grad school, I took over his work.
What were some of your favorite shows?
Synchronicity Performance Group did a show called Hot 'n' Throbbing, which ends with a man hitting his wife and strangling her with a belt. That was a challenge because it was such a small space with an audience on three sides. I liked working on the Action Movie plays at Dad's Garage Theatre. It's rare to be in shows that have that many fights, and I got to perform them as well as choreograph them. The fights were realistic, but also farcical -- I usually like choreographing more realistic fights than stylized ones.
Have you ever been hurt?
Oh, sure. Not so much lately, but back when I was training when I was younger, I was kicked, punched, stabbed. Once when I was rehearsing a rapier and dagger fight, the other guy tripped me and our weapons tangled. His rapier started coming towards my face, but we were in this black box theater lit from above, so I couldn't see it. The people in the room gasped and just as I wondered what they were gasping at, I felt like I had a bee sting in my upper lip. The blade wasn't sharp, so it was more of an impact wound than a cut, between my nose and my upper lip.