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November 21, 2002

Action Theatre

From: WLS, IL
Nov. 21, 2002

By Karen Meyer
November 21, 2002 — Teaching actors how to swordfight requires special training. Some Chicago area actors are showcasing their fighting skills as well as their signing skills.

The Action Theatre is an exhibition level theatrical fight show for students of the Fight Shop Combat Studio. Currently they are performing in two one acts. One cast member is profoundly deaf.

"Please forgive my temper. This argument is getting us nowhere," said Lopez.

Chris Lopez plays the emperor of Byzantines in R-and-D choreography's production of "Catalan Grand."

"Catalan Grand" is a story about a Spanish training company in the employ of the Byzantine Empire.

Richard Gilbert is co-founder of R-and-D, director and co-writer of the play. His company trains actors to swordfight, fistfight and gun whip.

All this requires special skills.

"You have somebody doing Hamlet, there is a swordfight in it so actors need to learn how to do that, and it's a tough thing to do," said Gilbert.

Chris is a student at R-and-D. Richard recognized Chris' talent and decided that he should be the Emperor.

"We've sort of built the show around the concept that the Emperor was deaf, so rather than signing for him or interpreting for him the way we normally would in an interpreted play, here the other actors who are Byzantines all sign and speak at the same time," said Gilbert.

Chris taught everyone how to sign, one of his best student is David Gregory, the other co-founder of R-and-D and co-writer. Incorporating sign language and having the Emperor being deaf was not a big deal.

"Our goal was just to show that here was a very powerful functional person who just happens to be in essence speak a different language," said

Actor Libby Beyreis has been studying with R-and-D for five years. She loves whacking people on stage.

"I love it because it's like dancing," said Beyreis.

Learning to sign was a new challenge for her.

"Chris has been a wonderful teacher. He was very patient. It took me a long time to learn but he was very helpful and taught us all a lot," said Beyreis.

For Chris he wants to keep on fighting.

"I want more involved with fighting," said Chris.

R-and-D Choreography's Action Theatre's "Catalan Grand" and H.M.S. Barnacle are being performed Friday nights at Chase Park until December 13th. Chase Park is located at 4701 North Ashland in Chicago.

For more information call 847-333-1494.

R-and-D Studio
648 W. Randolph 4th Floor
Chicago, IL

Copyright ©2002 ABC Inc., WLS Television, Inc.