Ed Christian: Actor and fight choreographer

Arts Profile

Posted: Thursday, November 02, 2000

Shakespeare to Rocky Horror: Ed Christian has been in dozens of plays in Juneau over the past 19 years. He's done Shakespeare with Theatre in the Rough and is currently playing Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing." He's been in shows at Perseverance Theatre ranging from "The Cherry Orchard" and "Obscene Bird Of Night," in the mid-1980s to "How I Learned to Drive" and "The Rocky Horror Show" in the late 1990s.

Houston to Juneau: Christian, 46, grew up in Houston, Texas, and earned a degree in radio, television and film from the University of Texas at Austin. He planned to produce television programs, but said he developed a distaste for big cities. He moved to Juneau in 1981 and began working with computers instead. He now serves as the information technology manager for the state Department of Law.

Daggers and combat: In 1984 Christian was awarded a grant from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council to study fight choreography. He attended a three-week workshop sponsored by the Society of American Fight Directors and worked with broadswords, rapiers, daggers, quarterstaffs and hand-to-hand combat. He's taught fight choreography and staged scenes for Perseverance Theatre and for high school production in Petersburg and Juneau.

"Actors, including myself, will come up with things in rehearsal that are dangerous and don't look good," he said. It becomes even more dangerous during a performance, when actors giving 110 percent will fall harder or "fight" more aggressively. Christian stages the scene so the action looks realistic and the falls and throws are safe.

The great show: He loves the collaboration of theater and the magic that happens on stage when everything comes together.

"It's possible to get a group of people on stage it might be one night of the run and do something really magnificent. For one performance, to transcend any expectation anyone had for the show. You're always looking for that great show that goes over the top," Christian said.

Natural and rehearsed: Christian said acting is an odd balance between losing oneself in the part and remaining aware of the mechanics and realities of the stage production.

"You always have to have your hand on the rudder you have to know where you're going. The ideal is to know the lines perfectly, but if you say them too deftly, it doesn't work. It has to be almost like you don't know what you're going to say next," he said.

A few pauses can make the dialogue seem more natural, but pauses add up and can make the show drag. You don't want the audience to think too much, he said.

"You want them to think, but you want them to be carried along with it."

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