Like most unholy alliances, Merry BanD officially began in a smoky bar under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol. However, the seeds of its inception were sown long before. It all began with Kansas City fight choreographer Richard Buswell and his vision of a show devoted entirely to Stage Combat. "If you were to ask any one of its many practitioners, they would be quick to confirm that stage combat is an art form unto itself," says Richard. "The problem is it's only ever utilized in the context of a much larger production, where the fighting is restricted to the abilities of the actors, limitations imposed by the script and the style the director has envisioned. By creating a show ABOUT stage combat it frees you from those restrictions and allows the opportunity to show off the full potential of live fights in all their variations."

For Richard, there was never any question that the idea would work. He was confident that there was an audience for his show that lies somewhere between erudite theatre goers, Renaissance Festival patrons and pro wrestling fans. He had many ideas for not only scenes and fights but interludes as well. Active multimedia intermissions to simultaneously allow the audience a break and further educate them about the often misunderstood and underappreciated art of combat performance. At all stages of the show's development, the biggest hurdle was simply HOW to make it actually happen. The answer came through an online horror show and a chance encounter.

In the fall of 2006, when Richard conducted auditions to cast stunt performers for series "Shadow Falls," he met local actor/graphic artist Nigel Delahoy. With his background in martial arts and gymnastics, Nigel stood out as the top pick. What particularly caught Richard's eye was Nigel's training through the Society of American Fight Directors-the same organization Buswell began his training with years before. Halfway through the first week of training with his newly cast team, Richard asked Nigel to join him as his official assistant on the show, trusting Nigel's judgment to oversee the stunt performers and maintain their safety on the set.

Shortly after, Nigel assisted Richard with a production of Romeo & Juliet in Arkansas. Encouraged by that experience and his growing respect for the abilities and enthusiasm of his self-proclaimed apprentice, Richard unveiled his vision in a smoky bar, making sure Nigel was too drunk to think clearly about what he was getting himself into. Whether it was due to the fog of cheap booze or simply the allure of doing more fight choreography, Nigel was quick to agree.

Suddenly, meetings were scheduled, scenes were selected, weapons were chosen and a name for the company was decided upon. With the "B" and "D" standing for Buswell and Delahoy (the "an" being anyone's guess), Merry BanD began to plan its first production, "...and they fight!", for the 2007 Kansas City Fringe Festival.