Swashbuckling sword fights with a side of treachery and drama will take centre stage in the Emerald Pig Theatrical Society’s latest production, The Three Musketeers.
Les Trois Mousquetaires, or The Three Musketeers, is a novel by French author Alexandre Dumas, written in 1844.
This adaptation is by playwright Ken Ludwig and is directed by Sharon Malone
The story takes place in 1625 and tells the tale of a young man named d’Artagnon who travels to Paris with his tomboy sister Sabine, looking for adventure. He befriends the three most formidable musketeers, named Athos, Porthos and Aramis, and joins with them to defend the honour of the Queen of France.
“There is a lot of different plot pieces that anybody can really follow, no matter what your age,” said Ryan Barnes, the Emerald Pig Society’s new president.
Barnes became president of the society in September after he moved with his family from California to Maple Ridge.
In California, he started two successful theatre companies and was technical director of the California Public Theatre.
He also brings to Emerald Pig 20 years of stage fighting experience, a skill that lends itself well to the current production.
“This particular show, we have been working so hard on the sword fighting,” said Barnes.
Unlike other community theatre performances of this calibre, “who just get a couple of clangs and parries and thrusts here and there,” Barnes said this cast has spent over half of the rehearsal process practising the fight scenes, about 50 hours total.
“What I’ve taught them is it’s a dance,” Barnes said.
“You are spinning around at this speed. You are stepping forward, you’re stepping back. And we do that on an individual basis with each person,” he added.
“When they get together, they are doing their movements that they’ve been taught without having to think in their head, ‘Do I chop here or am I trying to attack this person. No, you are doing this movement and it flows so beautifully,’” he said.
The key to a successful sword fight, said Barnes, is the ability to move freely and to work around each other.
“Have awareness of yourself, the extension that you have having a sword in your hand, it adds three feet that you are not used to. And also being aware of everyone around you,” added Barnes.
He has made the cast do awareness exercises, with everyone closing their eyes while walking in circles. Then they had to point in the direction where they hear each other or last remember seeing someone.
They also worked on their technique and style.
“At some point on stage, we have 18 different fighters fighting all at once. It’s a lot of fun,” he said, adding that it is the kind of show he envisioned as a kid wanting to go see.
Barnes wants to highlight that this is a show for the entire family.
“We’ve made it as family friendly as possible because we want every boy and girl to see these costumes and see these storied fights and be able to enjoy it.”