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The Way of the Safe Gun in Live Theatre – Using Replica Firearms

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Many modern plays feature gunplay or the presence of a gun (in this paper, we will use the common term “gun” for the theatrical replica firearm). Even stage directors who consider themselves Shakespeare purists are prone to add a gun to the stage combat when an outdated weapon, such as a broadsword or some kind of sword or knife, somehow does not convey the impact—the potential deadliness—that a 21st century audience often expects from certain plays. Modern plays often use or at least might mention guns when violence is implied, as such weapons are sure to receive a strong reaction.

Whether this is a sad reflection of the rise in societal gun violence, especially in America, is perhaps debatable, but the point is that a gun is often dramatically satisfying to use in stage combat, even when its use differs from the original stage weapon.

Given, then, that a gun may have the desired effect in a play, it is therefore crucial for directors to know two things:

  1. How the gun might be perceived by the audience of the play.

  2. How the gun will be managed for safety and security, both on stage and off.

The latter is more important. A show can be augmented in many ways; life and limb are too precious to leave to chance.


© 2023 AATE

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Youth Theatre Journal