Home Arts If this is your first night, you have to fight

If this is your first night, you have to fight

by The Concordian October 18, 2011
If this is your first night, you have to fight
Don’t expect to hone your stage combat skills nor be inspired by a Tyler Durden-esque character while attending a Montreal Actors Fight Club meeting.
The only relation this club has to the film is the gusto displayed amongst its members and a strict adherence to a certain set of rules – non Project Mayhem-related.
The first rule of the club: leave your ego at the door. The second rule of the club: leave your ego at the door.
“People get so caught up with themselves in this business,” said Vince Benvenuto, Actors Fight Club president and Concordia theatre graduate. “It’s not about us, it’s about the story. The audience either believes it or they don’t.”
The Actors Fight Club tries to ensure the latter never happens. They are a group of passionate actors and actresses, ranging in age from 20 to 55, who gather every Wednesday in a rented lot on St-Laurent Boulevard to work out their acting muscles and provide each other with observational critique in a safe and warm environment away from the eyes of the casting directors who hire them.
“A boxer’s not going to get in the ring and say ‘I haven’t been in the gym for a whole two months,’” said Benvenuto. “Before, they fought with their trainer and sparred with other fighters because it revved them up and got their muscles ready for what was to come.”
Members are expected to show up, memorized lines in tow, with a short monologue, audition or scene to present in front of the club. The other members turn into emboldened spectators whose goal is to help the performer discover exactly what their character is fighting for.
“Let’s say I’m fighting for your love, I’m fighting to get free from a relationship that hurts,” said Actors Fight Club member Marjolaine Lemieux. “If I’m not fighting for it, it’s going to be boring for the audience to watch.”
That fighting philosophy is based on the teachings of acting coach Tom Todoroff who was inspired by another teacher, the late Stella Adler. Adler coined the phrase “To be an actor is to be a fighter.” She also founded reputed acting academies in New York City and Los Angeles whose alumni include the likes of Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro.
Actors Fight Club members can learn these battling principles for a small price. In a world where acting workshops average over a hundred dollars a pop, five dollars to attend one session of the Montreal Actors Fight Club is a steal—so much so that Benvenuto doesn’t mind taking money out of his own pocket to cover the rent of the club’s space when membership fees don’t quite cut it.
“Out of all the money I spent in it, I made it all back in 10 per cent of the time I’ve invested,” said Benvenuto.
Since starting the club, Benvenuto has received more acting work. He believes the club has made him more “real.” It’s also taught members to be more aggressive and branch out and make their ideas come to life. Club member Nicole Jones was able to sell her idea “City Lites” to CTV. Her segment, which was picked up a year ago, highlights Montreal’s artists, entertainers and designers. It broadcasts on television twice weekly.
The final rule of the club is: if it’s your first night at Actors Fight Club you have to tell us about yourself. Oh, and you’re allowed to talk to other people about this fight club. 

If you’re interested in joining, check out their Facebook page at Actors Fight Club Montreal or email afcmontreal@gmail.com.

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