David Yondorf (1980-2023)
Stage combat artist David Yondorf, a graduate of the Columbia College Theatre Department’s BA Program in Acting and a longtime teacher in the Theatre Department’s Stage Combat Minor, passed away May 17, 2023.
A Certified Teacher of Stage Combat with the Society of American Fight Directors since 2010, Yondorf was Violence Design Artist-in-Residence at Chicago’s City Lit Theatre Company since 2018. At City Lit he was the stage combat and violence director for such productions as Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”; Edward Albee’s “At Home at the Zoo”; a world-premiere adaptation by City Lit artistic director and former Columbia College Theatre Department faculty member Terry McCabe of the classic Spanish drama “Fuente Ovejuna”; the Kingsley Day–Philip LaZebnik musical “State Street”, directed by former Columbia College Theatre Department chair Sheldon Patinkin; adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” and Shirley Jackson’s novel “The Sundial”; and J.M. Synge’s classic Irish comedy “The Playboy of the Western World” – his last production at City Lit. He also staged combat scenes for productions by the Side Project, Polarity Ensemble Theatre, and the Promethean Theatre Ensemble in Chicago.
“David began his training in stage combat at Columbia College Chicago in 1998,” says Columbia College faculty member David Woolley, coordinator of the Theatre Department’s Stage Combat program. “He came to us as a second-degree blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do wanting actor training. He took to the art of fake fighting with delight. He started teaching at the High School Institute at Columbia College in 2005, and joined our adjunct faculty in 2010.He was teaching up until midterms of this year. His love for his students, his art form and his audience were unparalleled. We have lost an outstanding man too early.”
Besides his work as a stage combat artist, Yondorf, a bass-baritone vocalist, was, since 2003, a member of Bounding Main, an accapella vocal ensemble devoted to sea shanties. A statement posted on Bounding Main’s Facebook page said: “We were honored to spend the last 20 years creating music and memories with ‘our David.’ We spent countless hours around the table rehearsing and telling stories… We traveled to perform throughout the Midwest, and internationally in Canada, France, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and the UK. … We became a family in a way we could never have anticipated when we met for that first time on a cold day in January 2003. …Friends and fans will recall David’s smooth baritone whenever they enjoy our videos and CD recordings. David will continue to be a member of Bounding Main. Always. . . . Fair winds, dear friend.”