Author: Adam Goldstein

Benaiah Anderson enjoying season as Shakespeare Festival’s first weapons keeper

“Benaiah Anderson joined the CSF in 2008 with a recommendation from award-winning fight coordinator and CSF troupe member Geoffrey Kent; the pair had worked together coordinating fight choreography and stage weapons for theater companies across the metro area. What’s more, Anderson connected with local sword maker Dennis Graves, manager of Boulder-based No Quarter Arms company, who has been fabricating weapons since the 1960s. It all gave Anderson a valuable set of skills as an actor looking to find his niche.”

Benaiah Anderson‘s parents knew they could no longer shield their son as soon as they guided their car into the driveway of their new home.

They were a conservative pair, and they’d done their best to dissuade their young son’s budding interest in old-fashioned weaponry. But the family’s move to a new town quickly proved that the boy wasn’t going to be put off from his fascination with handcrafted swords, daggers and other vintage arms.

“As we pulled into the driveway, our neighbor was spray-painting 20 rubber-band guns,” recalled Anderson, who is wrapping up his debut year as the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s first official armorer. “I’ve been making swords and spray-painting them silver since I was a little kid.”

That interest would stick with Anderson as he studied theater at Kansas State University and moved on to a role as an up-and-coming actor in the Colorado theater scene. It also helped secure him a recurring spot in the CSF’s ensemble for the past eight seasons.

Anderson joined the CSF in 2008 with a recommendation from award-winning fight coordinator and CSF troupe member Geoffrey Kent; the pair had worked together coordinating fight choreography and stage weapons for theater companies across the metro area. What’s more, Anderson connected with local sword maker Dennis Graves, manager of Boulder-based No Quarter Arms company, who has been fabricating weapons since the 1960s.

It all gave Anderson a valuable set of skills as an actor looking to find his niche.

“By graduation, I had a ton of experience helping actors fall down, get choked and fight. I was assisting Geoffrey Kent with classes every chance I could,” Anderson said. “I had made a secondary career out of making swords for actors, western martial artists and a few collectors.”

Since joining the CSF in 2008, Anderson has worn multiple dramatic hats for the organization. In addition to his work as an actor in Shakespearean standards and related works, Anderson has worked with Kent to help out with the festival’s unique combat and weapon demands.

But his role expanded in a very significant way this season, as he took on the formal title of CSF staff armorer. Most Shakespeare festivals employ dialect coaches and costume experts well versed in Elizabethan fashions, but a specialized armorer role is relatively novel.

So far, the move has worked well: In a 2015 season that included combat-heavy titles such as “Othello” and “Henry VI Part I,” as well as the martial-themed “Henry V,” Anderson took up a role designed to bring a new level of verisimilitude and ease to the combat side of the CSF. Read Adam Goldstein’s full feature about Benaiah Anderson in the Daily Camera.

(Photo credit: Jennifer Koskinen)

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