At this year’s Festival of Independent Theatres, held at the Bath House Cultural Center from July 10-August 1, there’s a good chance you’ll see some pretty sweet swordplay. That's because Jeffrey Colangelo, one of the area’s most respected stage combat experts and movement choreographers, is presenting Renaissance Fighters with Dean Wray and Caitlin Galloway, with collaboration from SCDallas. (It plays on July 11, 12, 16, 25 and 26.)
Colangelo is one of the founders of SCDallas, a company that was formed in 2012 to safely teach and oversee stage combat in Dallas-Fort Worth. He’s also the co-founder of PrismCo, a performance group that presents experimental movement pieces. (Their Galatea was recognized by the DFW Critics Forum in 2014.)
Before he picks up his sword for FIT Fest, Colangelo took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun and sometimes ridiculous questions.
Name: Jeff Colangelo
Participation in the Festival of Independent Theatres: Actor, fight director and writer of Renaissance Fighters
Previous work in the DFW area: Acting: PrismCo (Prism and Galatea) Shakespeare in the Bar (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing), Cara Mia (Zoot Suit, Romeo and Julieta). Fight direction: DTC, Trinity Shakespeare, Shakespeare Dallas, Theatre Three, Cara Mia, Water Tower, Undermain and PrismCo. Co- founded PrismCo with Katy Tye, and co-founded SCDallas with Ashley White and Brandon Sterret.
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Where you currently reside: Dallas
First theater role: First professional role was a Volsce Lieutenant in Shakespeare Dallas' Coriolanus.
First stage show you ever saw: The Lion King on Broadway
Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: It was in middle school. I was really hoping for a career as an animator or scientist, but then I got hooked by the drama club.
Most challenging role you’ve played: Michael in The Pillowman. Getting inside the head of the character took me basically the moment before opening to even come close to figuring him out.
Special skills: Fight direction, martial arts, juggling, clowning and mime
Something you’re really bad at: I am so, so, so bad at singing. There are professional singers who think that being tone-deaf is just a myth and after working with me, they have quickly changed their minds.
Current pop culture obsession: Any of the Batman Arkham games, Fallout and anything Guillermo del Toro has worked on.
Last book you read: Don’t judge me, but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the last book I’ve read cover to cover.
Favorite movie(s): Pacific Rim, Old Boy, Black Swan, Stranger than Fiction
Favorite musician(s): Skrillex, Ludivico, Tribe Called Red, The Avett Brothers, Yo Yo Ma. Basically anything that helps me choreograph movement.
Favorite song: "Short Change Hero" by The Heavy. It sounds like a cowboy ballad, and I respect it for that.
Dream role: Mercutio, Caliban, Old Capulet — just throw me some good Shakespeare roles, and I’m down.
Favorite play(s): Almost anything by Shakespeare, Sleep No More, True West, The Pillowman
Favorite musical(s): Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Stagger Lee, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Spring Awakening
Favorite actors/actresses: Robin Williams, Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Lawrence. I deeply admire a lot of our local actors and actresses.
Favorite food: Sushi, hummus, pasta, and tortas. There’s this great place on Jefferson that I’m addicted to called Tortas Las Tortugas.
Must-see TV show(s): Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Attack on Titan, Dragon Ball Z, Arrested Development, Important Things by Dimitri Martin
Something most people don’t know about you: Despite my profession, I’ve never broken a bone in my body.
Place in the world you’d most like to visit: Italy (all of it)
Pre-show warm-up: Trying to forget there’s a show coming up (keeps my nerves down).
Favorite part about your current role: My purple sash, and some of the ridiculous monologues I get to say.
Most challenging part about your current project: It is most definitely doing the sword fight choreography in such a confined space; it requires a lot of precision to make sure the fight looks good and is safe.
Most embarrassing onstage mishap: One time I was onstage as Donalbain, and I bent over and boom, my pants ripped. I had to do the rest of the scene with a huge tear on my butt. It was not fun.
Career you’d have if you weren’t in theater: I would probably be teaching at a martial arts studio, doing stunts for film work or freelance writing.
Favorite post-show spot: It used to be called Nandina’s, but now I think its called Sunny’s. It's open until 3 am and they’ve got amazing Thai teas. Best place to go after a show with your cast.
Favorite thing about Dallas-Forth Worth: There is so much potential here. Space is cheap, and the theater atmosphere is dying for some growth and innovative new ideas. It’s really an exciting time to make theater in Dallas.
Most memorable theater moment: Doing Galatea with the movement theater company I co-founded: PrismCo. That show was just so incredibly magical and fun to do. We knew we were changing people’s lives when they came to see that show, and it was a great way to start off our work as a company.