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En garde! Fencers make a Shakespearean point at library

David Young, from let, Isacc Young and Robert Parks with Huntsville Fencing Club demonstrated the centuries-old sport at Madison Public Library. (CONTRIBUTED)
David Young, from let, Isacc Young and Robert Parks with Huntsville Fencing Club demonstrated the centuries-old sport at Madison Public Library. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – En garde! Library visitors didn’t need to be on guard when fencing enthusiasts revived a tradition of Shakespearean times.

Huntsville Fencing Club members presented a rousing fencing demonstration at Madison Public Library. Their sparring routines corresponded with the library’s tribute to William Shakespeare during the Community Read celebration in April.

Opening the session,  David Young discussed swords in history and their use in war and for sport, fashion and ceremony.

“David brought many reproduction swords from various time periods. He talked about why each has a shape adapted to the time and use,” library programming clerk Teresa Allison said.

Participants were allowed to examine swords from the Civil War era and even a pirate sword. “The rapier was the sword most in use during Shakespeare’s life,” Allison said.

Isaac Young and Robert Parks from Huntsville Fencing Club also dressed in fencing uniforms and showed the use of epees in the sport.

“They talked about modern Olympic rules fencing, which is done with three different swords — the foil, saber and epee. The epee is the modern incarnation of the rapier,” Allison said. “They also put on a demonstration bout with epees.”

The fencing session ended with a question-and-answer session.

The audience included people of all ages. One younger patron said, “That was cool! I want to take fencing lessons.” Club members recommend 12 years old as a good age for children to start taking fencing lessons.

“I thought the fencing was fascinating,” Allison said. “The moves were smooth, fast and deliberate.”

Another tribute to Shakespeare for the Community Read was the session, “‘Draw if You Be Men: An Introduction to Shakespeare’s Theatrical Swordplay.” Dr. Hugh Long of Athens State University lectured on swordplay in Shakespearean productions, complete with stage props.

For more information, call the library at 256-461-0046 or visit hmcpl.org/madison.

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