Combat with Bret Yont – 22nd September 2019


It’s the first acting class of the new 12 Sunday Acting for Film & TV course!

32 fresh recruits (16 in each group) came together to kick start the new term in style.

All were ready to learn some basic principles of safe, effective, realistic stage combat in just 3 hours!

A huge task and a big ask for experienced tutor and fight co-ordinator, Bret Yount.

No danger (literally!), as Bret brings 30 years of experience as an actor and fight director to bear.

He has many West End and movie credits (including 2004’s Troy with Eric Bana and Brad Pitt) to his name.

This was our first of 12 acting for Film & TV classes.

The Combat class going first proved to be a great way to get those ‘first day at school nerves’ out of the way. Sure, we’re all adults but if you take any group of actors, experienced or not, the first time together is always edgy. Will I be any good? Can I hold my own against the others? etc

First of all, Bret got everyone stretching and warmed up, laughing at some great (and some lame!) jokes. In this way, he put everyone at their ease and ready for a fun packed class.

There followed a full 3-hour practical workshop on Stage Combat, an introduction for some and a refresher for others.

With colleague Cat Robey assisting, the class worked on principles of victim control/victim consent.

This ensures maximum safety for each actor while building techniques which look 100% realistic!

In a three-hour class we covered: slaps, punches, strangleholds, hair pulls and strangle pulls.

Some of our actors knew absolutely nothing about stage combat. However, the actors created mini scenes with a short sequence of: slap, strangle and pull, release, slap and punch.

Bret shared tons of advice and guidelines for actors entering the business:

  • Eye contact before each action, ensuring you and your ‘partner’ are communicating
  • To create a believable strike we need an action, reaction, sound (which we call the knap), timing, illusion of contact
  • For the illusion of ‘contact’ the striking object must cross the line of the eye of the audience.
  • creating safe distance before a strike
  • extremely realistic ‘knaps’ (sound) really sell the illusion of contact and can grab the audience attention
  • add in ‘acting’, perceived pain, anger and the effect is very potent
  • It’s not important what you are thinking, feeling or doing, it’s the audience perception of what you are thinking, feeling or doing.
  • Being balanced the whole time even when appearing to be off balance

We want to thank Bret for delivering another excellent class, teaching the actors valuable tools as well as getting everyone buzzed and excited for the next eleven acting classes!

Chloe Scalzo says:

“Amazing workshop with Bret Yount, tackling how to perform safe stage combat in a fun and relaxed environment. Bret has a fantastic way of allowing us to explore and apply the skills for different scenes of attack using the 5 components: Action, reaction, time, knap and illusion. Bret was able to give one to one feedback allowing you to perfect the skills within the class. Great sense of humour & a plethora of knowledge! Such fun!”

Neil Berrett says:

“Brett’s session was entertaining, but also reassuringly effective. He constantly enabled us to deliver realistic performances whilst staying and keeping each other safe. I’m looking forward to the rest of the course. Regardless of where it takes in me in life, I know it will enrich me as a person. Thanks for everything so far, it is an enlightening experience! It’s not often, at this advanced age, that one gets to explore that land so far outside their comfort zone in a place of safety.”

Ashleigh Swain says:

“What a way to kick off this course!  A really interesting and interactive 3 hours which seemed to fly by.  Brett and Kat delivered an acting class which was really detailed and also fun. It was also a real good way to break down barriers and get to know the group.  It had been a fair few years since I had done any form of stage combat. This class was really thorough and, above all, safe.  It was nice to keep working with a new partner each time. In this way, you got to ask for consent and also to experience working with different styles and abilities. This is good as no two actors are the same.  I had so much energy and enthusiasm after Week 1 that I couldn’t wait to get back!”