Roberta Brown

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Born

4/2/1965 , Warwick, Rhode Island

Birth Name

Roberta Ellen Brown

Gender

Female

Biography:

Roberta earned a BA with Honors--Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa--in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University. There, she studied fencing under Maestro Bill Shipman. She discovered her skills and strengths when she enrolled in a stage combat class. Also, while at Brandeis, Roberta worked as a research assistant with the Linguistics Department. then traveled across the ocean to study at and receive her MFA Equivalent (Diploma with Merit) from the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. At Webber, she studied with Master Roy Goodall. While in the U.K., she also and became a member of the Society of British Fight Directors.


 


Besides being a trained musician, dancer, and actress, Roberta is also a trained stunt double, a sword double, and one of the only--if not the only--female swordmasters, swordplay coach/choreographers, and fight choreographer/directors in Hollywood. Among the actors Roberta has trained and coached are Billy Campbell, Tessie Santiago, Patricia Arquette, Lucy Liu, Bo Derek, Elizabeth Gracen, Andrew Helm, Bob Golec, Patrick Fabian, Noah Wyle, Goran Visnjic, Mary Reinhardt, and Alex Kingston.


 


Though working in Hollywood and European productions for a number of years, she first caught the attention of the masses when she performed as the first sword double for the Queen of Swords in the syndicated television show of the same name.


 


Within a week of moving to Los Angeles in 1993, Roberta met fellow swordsman Robert "Bob" Chapin.  In that first week in town, she also took on a position as an Olympic style fencing instructor with the Westside Fencing Center in Culver City, California. In the grand tradition of Douglas Fairbanks, whose fencing uniform was on display at the studio, she was soon teaching stage fighting to local actors at the studio which was located inside the former Helm's Bakery in Culver City, CA. (She eventually became one of the owner-operators of the studio.)


 


Bob was studying with other teachers at Westside and needed a sparring partner for workouts. Because Roberta played that role so well, Bob cast her in his Dragon Fury film. A small group of fencers continued to assemble at Westside and started to work on film and stage projects (involving staged combat) together. That group not only included Roberta and Bob, but people from the "Highlander: The Series" world including Anthony De Longis and Andrew Helm. That led to an acquaintance with both Ken Gord and David Abramowitz, also.


 


As David Abramowitz started putting together his syndicated series, Queen of Swords, Roberta was asked to teach fencing moves to the three actresses who were finalists for the title role of the Queen of Swords. All three could act, but since the Queen was an expert swordswoman, the one who could learn fencing movement technique the quickest would be chosen so the producers would know that the actress playing the role of the Queen could make herself look like an expert in the use of swords. Dancer and actress, Tessie Santiago, won the role.


 


Brown received a call from the producers of Queen of Swords shortly after filming had begun in Spain. The stuntwoman who had been hired to do sword work along with other stunt work was not as adept with the sword as Brown was. In order to complete filming on schedule the producers hired the female swordmaster from Rhode Island to work as sword double for Tessie Santiago. She flew to Spain, was fitted for the costume, and put to work. In addition to doubling for Tessie Santiago she doubled for actresses Paulina Galvez and Bo Derek in various episodes. She would also do swordplay coaching with the actors when they were not filming so that everyone could look as if they had been fencing for a long time and so that everyone on set would be safe.


 


The quarters for cast and crew of Queen of Swords in Spain varied by the level of responsibility and visibility each person had. While actors had individual lodging, Brown shared a room with fellow Queen of Swords stuntwoman Natalia Brassuer. In later years, Brown reported that she and Brassuer became good friends through the experience.


 


After the first episodes of the TV series were filmed, and before the Americans went home for a break, she and Fight Dirctor Anthony De Longis were informed that they were being released from their roles in Queen of Swords so that the visa that De Longis and Brown each used could be made available for non-EU guest actors.


 


After Queen of Swords, Roberta was a swordplay choreographer and doubled as Lucy Liu's character in the theatrical release of Charlie's Angels. The doctors of ER actually "drew blood" (from one another) in a fencing bout choreographed by Roberta in the episode "Secrets and Lies." Roberta was the bullwhip trainer for Patricia Arquette's character in the Disney version of the children's book Holes. She, also, choreographed battle scenes for Alex Kingston's Boudica! (She acted as stunt/sword double for Ms. Kingston, too.)


 


Roberta has choreographed numerous fights and swordfights for theatre as well as the motion picture. According to SWORD FORUM INTERNATIONAL, these include a bullfight for Hasta La Muerte and "choreographing a huge, live, pirate battle for Colombia's bi-annual national Coffee Regatta" performed along the coast of Colombia in the fall of 2000. She has taught theatrical combat and swordplay at such places as Hollywood's Howard Fine Acting Studio, The Lee Strasburg Institute, Bogota's Teatro Libre, Juan Angel Theatre, and Teatro Lope de Vega, the Graz Kendo Club in Graz, Austria, London's Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, the University of Southern California, West L.A. College, College of the Canyons, Acting Action and at the Inosanto Academy.


 


In addition to teaching sport fencing to beginners at the Westside Fencing Center, she was also on the Board of Directors until 2003 when the Center closed. When Westside closed, Roberta started teaching sport fencing and stage combat at the Beverly Hills Fencing Club. Her choreography and teaching specialties include: Smallsword, Broadsword (and shield), Rapier (and Dagger / Buckler / Cloak / Lantern), Case of Rapiers, Foil, Sabre, Epee, Scimitar, Quarterstaff, Bullwhip, Chinese Fighting Fan, Hand to hand, Martial Arts. and Firearms.


 


Roberta wrote the afterward to Nick and Anita Evangelista's, now classic text, The Woman Fencer in 2000. She began teaching Tai Chi Rainbow Flying Fans with Elizabeth Gracen in 2001. Having studied linguistics and assisted with linguistic research, Roberta is a talented dialogue coach and is able to slip from one accent/dialect to another mid-sentence keeping her listeners quite entertained. She is able to engage in the following accents and languages:Fluent Spanish and German; semi-fluent French, British (Standard, Kensington, North London, East End, Wiltshire, Belfast, Liverpool), American (Standard, New England, New York Jewish, Boston, North Carolina, Canada), and others (Latin American, Polish, Italian, Austrian).


 


Roberta is an accomplished horsewoman and a competitive level figure skater. (So, she spent much time rollerblading for exercise.)


 


Roberta Brown is the proud mother of a son, has a son born to her in 2003. Her son bears her father's middle name.

Well-placed informants also indicate that she plays a mean game of MahJong.



2/03/04


Revised 4/14/13