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Fight for what you want - Rachel from RC Annie shares her experience

"Embrace the beginner in you."

Rachel is one of the founders of R.C. Annie. Rachel is a highly respected Fight & Intimacy Director with an enviable career in multiple mediums. Rachel has been kind enough to give us the opportunity to ask her some questions and share her knowledge with us.

Rachel Cristi Bown-Williams

Fight and Intimacy Director, BADC Stage Combat Instructor Examiner and Kundalini Global Yoga Teacher.

Career highlight thus far?
Imogen at the Globe where we created Aerial fights, Boudica - lots of live battles on the Globe stage it was so epic! Way up Stream where we got to choreograph a fight in 6ft water. Rebellion and Wars of the Roses at the RSC live fights and filmed battles.

Can you tell us about a difficultly you’ve faced in your career and how you managed to overcome it both literally and mentally?
I am really bad at saying no to jobs so often I don’t make time for anything outside of work. So we are often working at full capacity. Lockdown during the pandemic was a real shock, we had some touch and go moments where we weren’t sure we could get the company through it. We diversified and took a lot of our teaching and training online. It actually was really useful to reassess what we have achieved in our careers and what we want to do next. We also got some time to recognise just how busy we had been and to attempt slow down a bit, look after the mental health of ourselves and those who work for us. I also trained to be a Kundalini Yoga teacher during this time and we became members of the Intimacy practioners guild. So it really helped shape where we are at now. Working with intimacy, consent and boundaries in the rehearsal room.

How long have you been doing what you do?

I graduated as an actor from Rose Bruford College in 1999, I qualified as a BADC Teacher in 2003, We set up Rc-Annie LTD in 2005.

How did you start doing your job?

Its a long story, I’ll save it for the first day. (RC Annie is running a certified fight training retreat with Both Feet at Bodlondeb Retreat Come along and gain accreditation in

2 x weapon systems: Broadsword and Unarmed combat to BADC Standard Level

which you can use for the rest of your career. It's an incredibly unique retreat and a very rare opportunity.)

Why do you do what you do?
I love telling stories and working with actors and their creativity. These elements are the most dramatic moments in a story.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Students exceeding their expecta/ons of themselves. Complicity and collabora/on between company members. Students enjoying the journey and discovering the magic of stage combat.

What is the hardest part of your job?
Negotiating contracts and getting enough time to do the job.

What would you say has made you so successful in your career?
Dedication, determination and those I work with Victoria John who is our agent and Ruth Cooper-Brown who continues to remind me we can do anything we put our minds to.

Since the start of your career, what changes have you noticed in the industry and how do you feel about them?
The emergence of intimacy Direction as an official role has made great changes in our industry there is so much more care and concern for performers mental health now than there ever was.

What is your hope for the industry moving forward?
More actors have stage combat and movement training, awareness from producers about what goes on in the room and what it takes to do our job. As many of them are nego/a/ng contracts without that awareness of what is needed in the room. That we are running deroling sessions as standard in the rehearsal room.

If you could speak to your younger self at the start of your career, what advice would you give them?
Embrace the beginner in you.

What would be your greatest advice to actors in general?
Play and release. Learn stage combat it combines movement, voice and acting and can help other areas of performance. Don’t expect to be trained on the job. There is rarely any time to train people for the job, when fight directing we work with the performers skill level and meeting them where they are at.

What would be your advice to actors trying to make an introduction with yourself or others in your field?
Come train with us. Ruth and I believe that it is important to learn to be a stage combat tutor before you learn to be a fight director as it helps you work with lots of different people and be able to accommodate their learning needs. We have a small team of people, so there is a bit of a queue to get in the rehearsal room with us.

What are the common mis-steps actors make when approaching you?
There aren’t any mis steps really but we often get requests for people to come into the rehearsal room with us, which is difficult to accommodate. We can only really offer opportunities to people who have an advanced stage combat certificate who can assist us in the classroom. But as I said above it is only once people have apprenticed with us that we can then begin to train them in other areas of the role.

How can actors get in touch with you or find out more about you or what you do?
Our website, sign up for our newsletter, we also have a You Tube channel rc-annie.
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