Paddy Crean International Stage Combat Conferences
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The Paddy Crean International Stage Combat Conferences are international symposia at which prominent stage combat and martial arts instructors as well as theatre, film, and television fight directors gather to teach seminars on a wide range of subjects related to their professional interests.
The Paddy Crean conferences are named in honour of Patrick "Paddy" Crean, known as "the father of modern fight directing", who served as a mentor to many of the most prominent contemporary professionals in this field. Crean died on December 22, 2003, at the age of 93.
The original Paddy Crean gatherings (1991-97) were organised by Brad Waller as annual regional and then national (American) stage combat symposia, typically running for three days each, and were alternately held in Washington DC and in various Canadian venues.
From 1998 onwards, the conferences became increasingly international in focus and flavour and were extended into a week-long format. These events were held under the auspices of the International Order of the Sword and Pen. Host venues have included the Banff Centre (Banff, Alberta, Canada), Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh, Scotland) and the University of Southern Queensland (Toowoomba, Australia).
Pedagogy and themes
The pedagogical philosophy of the Paddy Crean conferences is described as "getting together to celebrate and encourage an international exchange of safe stage combat techniques and process, historical martial arts and styles, contemporary martial arts and theory, and the development of cooperation and skill, exploring the history and traditions of the past and the camaraderie found in the sharing of ideas and knowledge of the Sword and the Pen" (IOSP.org website).
A variety of curricular formats have been offered at different conferences, including one-off classes in specialised subjects, progressive classes that build in complexity over a period of days and skill-sharing sessions in which experts in different disciplines compare approaches and techniques.
Participants at the Paddy Crean conferences do not undertake practical examinations in the material that they have studied. Rather, the emphasis is placed almost entirely upon the classwork itself.
Teachers at the events offer classes in subjects that are typically addressed in most stage combat training curricula as offered by the various national Societies. They also offer classes in more specialized subjects such as Professional Wrestling, Zulu stick fighting, 19th century French walking stick fencing, neutral mask technique applied to stage combat training and many other disciplines.
The Paddy Crean events frequently offer interdisciplinary studies in related fields such as Asian and historical European martial arts, special effects technologies and the co-ordination and performance of film/TV stuntwork.
The Paddy Crean events are also marked by an emphasis upon academic scholarship, especially in the areas of performance study, movement pedagogy and historical research, featuring lectures and formal symposia on subjects including "Manipulating Violence: Weaponry Combat and Swordplay in Performance", "Swordsmanship in Spain from Carranza to the end of the 17th century" and "Creation, Re:Creation, Recreation: the Professional's Dilemma of Training and Performance" (Paddy Crean Conference, 2004).