Review: Ring of Steel For Real

Exciting! That is the one word that can be used to embody this event. So many magnificent swordfights and weapon expertise all in one morning really made the day start better than a cup of coffee does. They had the showcase at the Student Theater Arts Complex (which is down by Chrysler Arena connected to some kind of “plant operations” building). I had never heard of it before today, but I realized that it so far away because it needs a lot of room for all of the mats, props, scaffolds, and other theater equipment that this organization owns.

This open house was an interesting experience. While we waited for the show to begin, some of the other club members showed us the slew of weapons on display and described where they came from, what they were for, and told us the history behind them. It was very educational and we learned a lot about medieval weapons and their evolution through time.

The host of the show and leader of the group, the Maestro, began by telling us a brief history of “The Ring of Steel.” Apparently they have performed in venues from student productions to movies like “Hook” with Robin Williams and Disney’s “Three Musketeers.” Some of their favorite events are smaller, like a wedding in which they abducted the bride and than the “bridesmaids” rescued her back. So funny!

When the production began, it was exhilarating! So much fast movement and all of the clashes of sword collisions really got our hearts beating. The performers all had such aggression and concentration on what they were doing. And the passion…just beautiful. The actors were able to put stories into their scenes, from Shakespearean lines to funny babysitting battles. And they even used some parts from “Princess Bide” to liven up the show. It was great, especially since that is one of the best movies of all time (disclaimer: my opinions, no matter how correct, are not endorsed and do not reflect any specific opinions of art[seen] or the University of Michigan. They are mine and they are not considered theirs through affiliation).

We saw many different types of weaponry, including rapier, rapier and dagger, rapier and buckler, two-handed broadsword, staff, and the leather whip. There are 16 different classes of weapons that one can be trained in, and this group can train in most of the classes and also teach many of the stunts done in movies. The whip master was amazing! He had great stage presence, entertainment value, and comedy. He used plenty of targets, from flowers thrown from his own hand to a hat on his head, to show off his skill. We learned from him that the whip is the first human invention to break the sound barrier. The “crack” of the whip is actually a sonic boom! I thought that this was a really cool little trivia fact.

David Melcher-Whip Master
David Melcher-Whip Master

This group practices multiple times a week to build up an endurance. In movies they don’t show you how tired one gets after a few minutes of swordplay. But these actors were keeping it up and doing so beautifully. They are doing another show in May, so feel encouraged to look them up and go see their show!

As Always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer.

Danny Fob

I'm a Junior in LSA majoring in Italian and minoring in Art History. I love writing for art[seen] because it gives me the opportunity to show all of these amazing shows that the University brings to Ann Arbor. We get some world class performers and I would be really bummed if I missed out on anything that I'll never have to opportunity to see again. What you need to know about me? I'm not a writer, an art expert, and I didn't grow up around this much culture. I am a busy student at UofM, so if you are judging me for something, it's okay because I won't have time to respond. I'll just keep seeing shows and you can be jealous!