Dive into the thrilling world of stunt performance at Oxford Brookes’s Creative Industries Festival

Creative Industries Festival flyer
The 2024 Creative Industries Festival flyer

The action-packed world of big-screen stunt performance and what it takes to stage convincing fight scenes will be revealed in a free workshop next week as part of this year’s Creative Industries Festival at Oxford Brookes University.

The annual festival, organised by the University’s Creative Industries Research and Innovation Network, returns for four days from Tuesday 23 April with a series of workshops on the theme of Power and Change.

Dr Lindsay Steenberg, Associate Professor of Film Studies at Oxford Brookes, is hosting the ‘What fighting can teach us: stunt performance in the British media’ workshop, where attendees will delve into the art of stunt performance, gaining insights into the rigorous training regime and even participating in real-life stunt training.

As part of her research, Dr Steenberg has been training as a screen fighter, as well as interviewing professional stunt performers and trainers. She has expertise in fight-scene choreography, with particular focus on 21st-century Hollywood fight scenes. 

Dr Steenberg said: “As part of the workshop, participants will be shown some basic choreography, giving them an insider perspective into what it takes to make a fight scene that is convincing, safe, and spectacular.

“Fight scenes are at the heart of action cinema, but the screen fighters and stunt performers that make these happen often remain out of the spotlight. Screen fighting itself is a complex choreographed dance, requiring skill, practice, and the ability to collaborate.”

Dr Steenberg’s research analyses and celebrates the work of British stunt performers and martial artists. 

She said: “British stunt performers work in a financially precarious, hyper-competitive, and relatively high-risk profession, so their training prepares them to work as a community to ensure safety and creative collaboration. As a feminist scholar I am also working to advocate for access and equity across the industry in order to make the working lives of the performers better. An initial survey of performers who are members of the British Stunt Register indicates that 83% identify as men.”

Actor and stunt performer, Jon Xue Zhang, who performed stunts for Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ and ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ will also be joining the session. Most recently, Jon appeared as Blood Boots in Netflix’s ‘The Brothers Sun’. The workshop will take place at 3.00pm on 23 April at Headington Hill Hall. To attend, sign up on the registration page. 

Other events as part of the four-day festival include Sounds of Salvador, a performance of 
samba reggae music by long-standing Oxford community band Sol Samba. They will be bringing their music to the John Henry Brookes Building on Headington Campus for an hour from 7.00pm on 23 April.  

On 24 April, Dr Antonia Mackay,  Senior Lecturer in Publishing at Oxford Brookes, will be giving a reading of her forthcoming play, ‘Three M’others’, which is focussed on motherhood during the Covid pandemic and the digitisation of maternal healthcare. 

Additionally, a panel discussion, hosted by Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, will take place on 26 April, talking about the value of poetry pamphlets. Dr Niall Munro and Dr Claire Cox are two co-founders of ignitionpress, the award-winning poetry pamphlet press at Oxford Brookes which gives the chance for emerging poets to have their work published. 

Dr Hannah Yelin, Chair of the Creative Industries Research and Innovation Network, said: “This week of workshops for the Creative Industries Festival is crammed with amazing programming from scholars and creatives, demonstrating the cutting-edge research and rich partnerships in the creative industries here at Oxford Brookes. Across the four days, we have 50 contributors from art, photography, poetry, literature, film, music, fashion, theatre, dance, digital and many more.”

The full programme can be viewed here.