I'm so glad you asked. Here on the blog, I'll be sharing articles explaining the need for a competent fight director, from both editorial and anecdotal angles. I hope you find them educational.
There is a "fight choreographer" mentioned, but no qualified fight director would ever use a sharp knife onstage. This is part of the difference between hiring someone who "has had a few classes" or "seen it done before," and hiring a competent professional.
The Texas Supreme Court documents related to this case can be found here: http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/Historical/2000/jun/990634.pdf
"When I fell on the couch as choreographed, I think my right hand was balled into a fist, rather than open, and that’s when I heard a crack. When I tried to hit him with my right hand, I realized something was wrong.
Supervision over non-fight violence as well as choreographed fights is also important. Knowing how to fall properly is invaluable.
A wise professor of mine was once asking around for advice about filming people. A technician told him that the most important piece of equipment he should make sure to buy, the one thing that would make everything more professional, was none other than a good microphone. A good microphone produces such clear sound that it tricks us into thinking that the quality of the video is better, while a bad one can make any video seem amateur. People of the theatre world, I would like to let you in on a little secret: fight choreography is our microphone."
By Bess Rowen, Ph.D Student, Department of Theatre, CUNY, and Huffington Post contributor.
So please hire a fight director. You CAN afford it. A qualified fight director will enormously enhance the quality of your show, keep everyone in your building safe, and open your eyes to new perspectives on work that you may, in many cases, have been turning over in your mind for years. When you finally get your hands on Lear (and by “you,” I mean “me”), a fresh perspective on those scenes you’ve been dreaming about blocking for a decade will not only make the violence better, but will provide fresh insights into the entire piece– narrative, themes, and characters.
Interviews with several fight directors and a discussion of the absolute necessity for professional violence direction.
By Melissa Hillman, Artistic Director of Impact Theatre in Berkeley.