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Fighting Talk

How do you write a fight? Ian McMillan and Hollie McNish are joined by Ross Sutherland, Ben Crystal, Willy Vlautin and Theresa Lola to talk about punching with a pen.

How do you write a fight? Ian McMillan and Hollie McNish are joined by Ross Sutherland, Ben Crystal, Willy Vlautin and Theresa Lola to talk about punching with a pen.

Willy Vlautin is an American novelist and musician. He is the lead singer for Richmond Fontaine, and his latest novel 'Don't Skip out on Me' (Faber), follows a young man who dreams of being a championship boxer.

The poet Ross Sutherland has written a brand new commission for The Verb inspired by the Jackie Chan film 'Rumble in the Bronx'

Hollie McNish introduces Theresa Lola, a British Nigerian poet and workshop facilitator. Based in London, Theresa hosts 'The Rhythm And Poetry Party', an evening of hip-hop-inspired poems and hip-hop song.

The Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal explains how to bring alive a fight scene from page to stage, showing us how the seeds of physical combat are often sown into the fabric of the play without us necessarily knowing.

Producer: Cecile Wright
Presenter: Ian McMillan.

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44 minutes

Willy Vlautin

Willy Vlautin

The writer and musician Willy Vlautin has just published a new novel, ‘Don’t Skip Out On Me’ (Faber). The Richmond Fontaine frontman tells Ian how the novel (which is also accompanied by a soundtrack album) began as a song that just wouldn’t leave him. Vlautin discusses his love for John Steinbeck and his attraction to restless ‘drifter’ characters. 

Theresa Lola

Theresa Lola

Hollie Introduces us to the poet Theresa Lola, who reads her poem ‘When The Solider Returns From The War’. We hear about the genesis of the poem, which began when Theresa stopped to listen to a homeless man, and realised he has been a solider and was suffering from PTSD. The poem is her attempt to humanise him and give him a voice. She also reads a poem inspired by her childhood in Nigeria ‘Observations or Home in Order of Nostalgia’,a  poem shot through with gentle humour. 

Ross Sutherland

Ross Sutherland

We asked the poet and performer Ross Sutherland to write us a new poem for our Fighting Talk theme. Ross presents his poem/writing experiment in which he attempts an audio description of a particularly frenetic fight scene in the Jackie Chan film ‘A Rumble in the Bronx’. Ross explains some of the inventive descriptive language he had to use as the action sped up and also some of the communication tricks used by professional wrestlers.

Brian Williamson

Brian Williamson

Brian Williamson is a comic book artist and he lets Ian in on the tricks of the trade, explaining the visual grammar of a fight scene, the importance of the panel in controlling the speed of the narrative and the relationship between the artist and the writer who will often produce a script for the illustrator to work from that lies behind the finished product. 

Ben Crystal

Ben Crystal

The actor and producer Ben Crystal explains how fight scenes in film and theatre are brought to life. He explains how the directions are often sparse – such as in the case of the memorable, balletic fight scene in the film ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. He also examines how Shakespeare uses fight scenes, often coming at the end of a play in a cathartic moment, the seeds of the conflict are sown throughout the text.  

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