Monday, October 03, 2011

VCon 36: Play, Workshops, Readings...FUN!

Art by Artist VCon 36 Guest of Honour
Jean-Pierre Normand

I had a great time this weekend at VCon 36.

I used to come as a fan and very much enjoyed the panels and schmoozing, going to readings, attending the masquerade and dance.

Then I started coming as a guest. This was both cool and nerve-wracking. I am, believe it or not, shy. I'm nervous speaking to an audience without a chance for rethinks and edits. And I don't manage well trying to get a word in edgewise on a panel where great talkers have hold of the mike.

On the other hand, I love doing readings. Serious or silly. (Obviously, if you have looked at my YouTube channel.) I love doing critiquing. I love encouraging other people to be really silly.

So I have slowly figured it out. Stay off pontificate-y panels. Get reading panels put on the program. Write a silly play. Get people to act it out. Critique people's stories. Goof around. Get to know people. Have fun. Be fun. And forget about My Work.

That is what I did this weekend. I worked my butt off, but I worked at things that give me energy and great pleasure. The workshop participants got pages of carefully thought out notes. The Pallahaxi Players performed the stage version of "This is for Mrs Zaberewsky" brilliantly to an appreciative, and appropriately guffawing, "crowd". Steph St Laurent was over the top as Wikta, the frustrated actress who is taken to an alien planet to be a star. Virginia O'Dine made a wonderful Narrator, as I knew she would from her performances at Turkey Readings of earlier years. Theo Campbell was hilarious as Droodla, the alien director, and Mrs Zaberewsky herself. And Rhea Rose truly rose to the occasion (and lowered to it) as Mrs Jabłoński, Unglubump the aspiring actroid, and well, a ramp. (I had not dreamed anyone could bring such subtlety to the role of spaceship ramp.)

On Sunday Ian Alexander Martin and I presented Listen To This ! Listen To This! He opined and I read favourite passages from works by Avram Davidson, Eileen Kernaghan, Don Marquis, and Mike Coney.

At noon I worked with Fran Skene (whose baby it is), Eileen Kernaghan, Virginia O'Dine, and a crowd of willing victims to produce the Turkey Readings. A quarter at a time, we raised $150.55 for the Canadian Unity Fan Fund (CUFF). (Nothing next to the $650ish raised for Aunt Leah's Place at the Closing Ceremonies by auctioning off Normand's drawings and a personalized copy of Author GoH Larry Niven's new book. But not bad for goofing around for an hour.)

And finally I joined Ian Alexander Martin, Sandra Wickham, and Jaymie Matthews in reading pages 189 from a variety of different books. The books were concealed from the audience members, who had to decide whether they would be interested in reading the whole thing before being told what books they were listening to. (I read from House on the Strand by Daphne DuMaurier, Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, Path into the Unknown: The Best of Soviet Science Fiction, edited by Judith Merril, and The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson.) Of course, we readers didn't know what the others were reading from, either, so we got to enjoy the gosh wow of the surprise, ourselves.

By the end of it all I was most happily read out.

I got to attend only a little of the programming (what I habitually refer to as paneling, which I think is actually something you put on the walls of your rec room). I heard Dave Duncan read, I got to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, saw a stitch of the Costume Masquerade, and so on. My main priority beyond meeting my commitments to the concom was to hang out with my nephew Theo and have conversations with other folk, whether in the Dealers Room or over tea or flying down the hall.

A fun, fun time. I look forward to next years VCon.

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