Unarmed Combat

Unarmed Combat

MAR 28 – May 6

Tuesdays, March 28 through May 6
6:45–9:15 p.m. ET

In-Person, 516 8th Street SE, 3rd Floor Rehearsal Room

Instructor: Matt Castleman
Prior Experience: Not required.

Stage Combat is a specialized form of movement training but also an acting discipline that endeavors to develop technical skills along with the ability to successfully blend these skills with the overall “storytelling” process. This class will concentrate on learning the basics of safely performing effective techniques of staged violence with intention.

We will focus predominantly on technique but always with an eye towards utilizing the techniques to create believable moments of dramatic violence. Our work will specifically focus on fighting unarmed.

Class Objectives:

  •  Learning to safely and truthfully portray violence on stage.
  •  Learning to perform with specificity of action and intention.
  •  Developing technical skills, spatial awareness, centering, focus, physical balance and control.
  •  Becoming stronger and more confident with our own personal physicality.
  • Learning to incorporate fighting style, inclination, and temperament as an aspect of creating a character.
  • Special emphasis will also be placed on developing partnering skills.


  • Besides various technical drills we will utilize acting exercises, partner exercises, friendly competition, and possibly a bit of semi-sparring to feel the rush of combat.
  •  Paralleling our physical training will be acting, story, and character exercises to emphasize that stage combat is as much an acting discipline as any other, and that our purpose is to tell a story through a scene, just like a non-combat scene.
  •  Time permitting, we will view and discuss films with noteworthy sequences of violence.

Matt Castleman, STC Teaching Artist

Matthew Castleman is a stage actor and writer originally from New York City, now making D.C. his home. Shakespeare has been the core of his performing career for years, and in that time he’s done workshops, classes, and educational performances up and down the East Coast. As an author he’s visited many schools and libraries and taught kids from elementary to high school about storytelling, dramatic structure, and the creative process. Matt spent the summer of 2019 teaching and directing at STC’s Camp Shakespeare, and also works as a teaching artist with Wolf Trap’s early childhood program. When not on stage or at a keyboard he can be found practicing 14th-century German fencing (competently) and bass guitar (less so).

Tickets and Schedule

Dates     March 28 – May 6