Nick Gisonde is a stage director, fight coordinator, fight instructor, stunt performer, and actor. He has coordinated fights and stunts for film, theater and opera for over 25 years.
As a stage director, Nick is currently rewriting and directing an online workshop production of Miss Julie for Endless River Arts. He will be directing Roméo et Juliette for South Bend Lyric Opera in September. He was due to return to the Bay View Music Festival this summer to direct La Traviata and for his fifth season as co-stage director for the Bay View Music Festival's SOARS program but both productions were cancelled due to COVID-19. Last summer he directed Rigoletto for South Bend Lyric Opera and Die Zauberflöte for Bay View Music Festival. He directed Così fan tutte for North Shore Music Festival. He directed a workshop of Macbeth, which led to a full production of the play at the Secret Theatre in New York for Endless River Arts. Nick staged Shakespeare Cabaret, a series of songs based on Shakespeare's monologues written by Emmy Award winning composer Glen Roven and accompanied with scenes from the plays, featuring soprano Risa Renae Harman and pianist Casey Robards at Central Michigan University. The program is scheduled to be performed at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2020. He has staged scenes from Carmen, Roméo et Juliette, Giulio Cesare, Don Giovanni, Hansel and Gretel, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Pasquale, Rigoletto, Die Zauberflöte, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Così fan tutte, E'lisir d'amore, Little Women and The Merry Wives of Windsor for the SOARS Opera Scenes program. He co-directed a production of Pierre Corneille's El Cid for the The Pendragon Ensemble in New York .
Nick has stage fights for over 50 theater and opera productions. He has been the resident fight choreographer for The Bay View Music Festival since 2001. He recently choreographed the fights for West Side Story for Bay View directed by Galia Backal. He has collaborated with acclaimed opera director Crystal Manich on many productions as fight coordinator and stage violence consultant for such companies as Boston Lyric Opera, Tulsa Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and Opera Omnia in New York City. He recently choreographed the fights for George Cederquist's modern edgy staging of Carmen for the Bay View Music Festival. Other Bay View credits include Falstaff, Così fan tutte, La Boheme, Don Giovanni and Kiss Me Kate.
He was a cast member, fight captain and assistant to fight choreographer J. Steven White for the 1998 Tony Award Winner, A View from the Bridge, directed by Michael Mayer and starring Anthony LaPaglia and Allison Janney. He staged the fights for the Off Broadway play, Beautiful Thing at the Cherry Lane Theater. He has performed stunts and choreographed fights for live action stunt shows at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.
As a stunt performer, he appeared in Erik Flynn Patton's fantasy action feature film The Tower of Silence due to be released this year. He appeared in and coordinated the stunts and fights for two independent short action films, Just Cause and The Honey Trap.
Nick appeared in the films 53rd Calypso starring Edward Norton, The Strawberry Girl and Helene. On stage, he appeared in many New York and regional theater productions. Some of his credits include Rodrigo in El Cid, Posthumus Leonatus in Cymbeline, Laertes in Hamlet, Paris in Troilus and Cressida, Oberon in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Clunette in The Battle of Shallowford and Lee in True West.
He studied acting with Hank Schob at Penny Templeton Studios, Maggie Maes at The Actor's Loft, William Esper and Joel Rooks at William Esper Studios, James Tripp at The National Shakespeare Conservatory and Joseph Siravo, Robert Mooney, Lisa Jacobsen and Laura Fine at The Riverside Shakespeare Academy. He currently studies with Ryan Kessler.
He is married to Risa Renae Harman and lives in Astoria, NY.
Why I got into fight choreography
At an early age I developed a strong and passionate interest in swordplay, stunts and acting. After watching movies like Excalibur, The Three Musketeers and Roman Polanski's Macbeth, I knew that this what he wanted to do with my life. I became engrossed in the study of the fights of William Hobbs, the Fight Arranger for these and many other great films. I realized Hobbs was a true visionary and a master of stage and film combat. I also enjoyed the films of Hal Needam, one of the greatest Stuntmen and action directors of all times. These two icons in the action world were the inspiration for me to pursue a career in fights and stunts.
When I began working professionally as an actor he was cast in several Shakespearian roles that required that he fight. I was very excited to be given the opportunity to swing a blade and perform intricate moves of choreography on stage. However many of the productions I was in did not have a fight choreographer so I offered to take on that responsibility. Most of the directors were more than happy to allow me to do it since they knew very little about the craft and were worried about the safety of the actors. I began my training with Joe Daly at HB Studios. A few years later, I met Dale Girard, a Fight Master with the Society of American Fight Directors and stuntman. I continued my training with him for a several years. He has been a major influence on me in my pursuit as a fight coordinator, stunt performer and stage combatant. After working with Dale, I began training with SAFD Fight Master Michael Chin at Fights 4 and most recently with SAFD Fight Director Joseph Travers at Swordplay.