I recently had the pleasure of attending the book launch for Shakespeare’s Rebel and am wondering if all book launches are this much fun. I had never been to one before so when the opportunity arose I took it.
The event was co-hosted by the author C.C. Humphreys and Academie Duello in the main tent at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver which meant that this wasn’t your average ‘author standing in front of a group of people reading excerpts from their book’ book launch. Not to say that wouldn’t have been enough. Humphreys is thoroughly engaging when he reads and at one point had the audience so enthralled that we were all willing to shout “bollocks to the bard!” at his request.
The addition of a historic swordplay group to the evening meant that I could indulge in my other passion with equal fervour. Devon Boorman, the director of Academie Duello, gave a lecture about the role of the Globe theatre and the prize fights of the London Master of Defense in Shakespeare’s day while members of the group demonstrated the use of various weapons of the time. The lecture ended with a modern prize fight (i.e. not choreographed) for two of the Duello members. This was probably my favourite part as I had a front row seat and could indulge in a little amateur analysis of their techniques.
Another highlight of the evening for me was the lecture given by Bard on the Beach’s own fight choreographer, Nick Harrison, in which he describes the work that goes into staging the final fight scene from Hamlet when all the stage direction given in the play is ‘the fight’. He explained how certain lines in the play give clues as to how one might stage the fight so as to not have just a couple of actors standing there poking at each other with weapons but to have a scene that engages the audience as well. As Hamlet is being performed this year we were able to witness for ourselves the result of Mr. Harrison’s work. Yay, more swordplay!
The evening ended with Bard on the Beach’s artistic director reading a passage from the book and one final fight scene in which Humphreys himself took part before we all moved outside to have our books signed by the author. What a great experience! I hope I have a chance to do something like this again.