Author Topic: May Amuse: A little blood goes a long way. From Gyppo's Theatrical Archives...  (Read 2228 times)

Offline Gyppo

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Here's a bit from the arena days, an extract from my e-book A Hamper Of Havoc

Gyppo

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            Stage Blood:

    It's time to say a few words about the use of stage blood.

   In the early days we fell into the trap of using stage blood for effect.  Stage blood has a place, but this place is usually in films and rarely in a live arena event.  A good bit of acting is far more convincing that a splatter of bright red blood.

   For example:  If you slash a man across the stomach with your sword - laying it on and then dragging it across - the best reaction is for the victim to fold across the blade and then hug his stomach as if trying to hold it together when you pull the blade free with a triumphant upward tug.

   If the man is wearing chainmail folding across the initial blow is still believable, and the metallic scrape as you complete the cut is very convincing.

   But...  Should you be tempted to put a blood bag under your clothes there are a number of problems waiting for you.

   a)  Sometimes the damned thing just won't burst when you want it too, or it bursts too early when there isn't a weapon anywhere near enough to explain the sudden crimson hemorrhage.

   b)  It's a nightmare to wash out of clothes afterwards, and light coloured material soon becomes a mucky pink after several 'deaths'.  If you *must* use it plenty of washing up liquid worked into the stain as soon as possible after your demise is a good start, followed promptly by washing in *cold* water as hot tends to cook the stain into the material.

   c)  If you get it on your hands it tends to stain around the cuticle of your nails and it looks as if you have been wearing red nail varnish and failed to remove it properly.  As some people think anyone who 'dresses up'  must be homosexual this can lead to misunderstandings.

   d)  In some of our early shows we had a sequence where a disarmed man would vainly grab at a sword blade with his bare hand to protect himself.  The attacker would then drag his blade free and a sizable gout of blood would erupt from the small bloodbag held in the injured hand.

   I was doing this one day when I felt a razor like slash across my fingers and several fluid ounces of real blood mingled with the fake and continued to flow for some time afterwards.  A small nick in the otherwise blunted blade had produced two fine horns of metal which sliced my fingers open as the sword was withdrawn.

   The lesson was learned, and after a training weekend with a chap from the Royal Shakespeare Company - during which I also met my future wife - we learned how to avoid messy fake blood and how to add apparent realism to all sorts of staged violence.

   As a final note I ought to mention blood capsules, those wonderful little things which actors palm into their mouth and bite when they want to do that dramatic trickle of blood from the mouth which usually follows a knife in the back or similarly subtle death stroke.

   They taste bloody foul, which at least stops you from smiling.

   They contain bicarbonate of soda which makes them fizz, producing a fairly convincing mouthful of bubbly drool which looks the part as it runs down your chin.

   My advice is to avoid them wherever possible.

   But...  One of our chaps - new to the arena and a bit too excitable - accidentally swallowed one without biting it.  Later on he drank a can of fizzy stuff and the reaction in his stomach made him feel 'quite ill', but nowhere near as ill as he felt when he started to 'burp up blood'.

   Harmless enough, but well worth avoiding the hassle.

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In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Akeith (Gray)

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Entertaining as well as amusing, Gyppo.

I learned something new.  ;D

Gray

Offline dynodreamer

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 :( ... and now can I go and watch Rambo without having reality slap me out of the fantasy of it all?

Pithy, very pithy Gyp!
The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there isnít any - Yogi Berra
[Ask a Doctor when he feels he might quit practicing Medicine and work on theory!]

Offline Gyppo

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Knowing how fights and stunts are done has never stopped me enjoying a good film.  But a badly staged fight scene always comes dangerously close to inducing spontaneous trouser irrigation.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline ma100

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A very entertaining and enlightening piece Gyppo, as always.  I have always wondered how they slit the throat of the guy in the Krays film . To me it looked so real. 

Ma

Offline Elodie-Caroline

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If it was a woman,and the blood bag burst too early, she could always say she was having a period.  ;)

"a)  Sometimes the damned thing just won't burst when you want it too, or it bursts too early when there isn't a weapon anywhere near enough to explain the sudden crimson hemorrhage."

StrayDog

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Clever article, but we always expect this from you.