15th October 2013: Play Expo After Ayacon, Angela and I decided to give the WCS qualifiers at Play Expo a try, with our costumes. We worked really hard to put together a set, and to design and rehearse our skit in just five weeks, as right after Ayacon I was away till the second week of September at various conferences in different parts of the UK and Europe. Even after this we could only rehearse once a week on a weeknight: Angela was working full time during all this, as she had no annual leave left, and I was writing 350+ lecture slides for the 3 days of university teaching abroad that I was doing the day after Play Expo! I'm writing this from Norway having delivered the first 7 hours worth of teaching.
All our hard work paid off, though, as we came second in the qualifiers and won Best Group in Show too! At the end of the event we were able to get some lovely feedback from the panel of judges - the quality of craftsmanship on our costumes was excellent, and the judges loved many of the concepts in our performance. The only criticisms they had were that we didn't use the entirety of the stage, and our costumes lacked flow, despite having a good visual impact in terms of colour and complexity. This is something that is considered as part of WCS judging now - how well costumes move on stage. This was never something we would have had much joy with, alas, because Angela's costume just wasn't the right sort of design for that, and all the flowy bits of my costume were safety-pinned to buggery to stop the layers of the costume from separating and flipping over when I fell down in the skit. Didn't want to reveal all the goodies I had hidden away for the latter half of the skit - that'd be spoilers! XD
In our skit we didn't use the whole of the stage because we ran the risk of missing the audio cues in our music track if Angela was too far away from me, so it was a deliberate decision on our part to move closer to the boss. However, we could have asked the stage hands to move our Wall-Face set further towards the centre of the stage to centralise the space that we were using. This also had an impact on how much of me was seen to be facing the audience, also. We sent our skit rehearsal video to a friend of ours who gave us some tips on how to stand so the audience could see us better, while making it still obvious that we were interacting with the set. So during rehearsals we designated a part of the room to be the audience and tried our best to perform with our bodies turned towards that. However, in the video of our skit taken from the judges table, although I had my body turned towards the audience we were so far over to the right of the stage that from the judges table it was difficult to see what I was doing while attacking the boss in the latter part of the skit, and it looks like I have my back to the audience. Although this wasn't said to us as part of our judging feedback, it's a fairly obvious thing to me watching the video. It probably wouldn't have happened if we'd moved the set further towards the middle. These things in hindsight!
But everything else in our skit went off without a hitch, and we were really happy about that, as there was a lot that could've gone wrong despite us trying to keep the performance as simple as possible! In our skit video I have 4 different props hidden within my costume, including a 40cm wide frisbee and a 1.5m long piece of orange fabric on a wooden pole! At various points during rehearsals things went wrong with those - they fell out, or got stuck, or I dropped them, etc etc. I'm really relieved that during the actual skit, all these things worked without any problems at all and looked great! We also had fabric hidden inside our Wall-Face set to make it look like it was attacking us and those worked well too (although wish I'd been able to pull the yellow chiffon all the way out of the buttonhole sewn into the central eye, I thought I'd pulled it out completely but there was a tiny bit still stuck in the middle so it dangled!) I think if we were redoing the performance for another event I would make the orbs I was flinging much larger - the dark orb I threw was barely visible even from the judge's table which was right up the front!
But although I may notice these flaws now, overall we were really happy with how our skit went - the sacrifices we made ensured Angela could met the audio cues, and that was worth a lot to us because it would've looked so crap if we'd missed those. We got some lovely comments from people at the end of the show and it was such a great thing to have done, and knowing we were so close in points to the winners of the qualifiers makes me feel even more proud of what we pulled together in just 5 weeks. It's a really nice thing to have won a prize for my costume work too - it's the first one I've ever won and I'm so happy :D
We learnt a lot from the experience of entering the WCS qualifiers (myself especially as it was my first ever skit at an event) and had a lot of fun in the process! Rehearsals were hilarious XD I would recommend having a go at it to anybody :D
I also made a lot of improvements to the costume as well, based on feedback from Pez who was part of the judging panel at Ayacon. I recast the pendant using a larger mould and used the large turkey feathers I'd bought for the original pendant. I also incorporated the third wig into the base wig, by slashing the netting at the top as suggested by Storme, and pulling the hair of the base wig through these and through the gaps in the weft elastic at the back. I decided to plait the base wig to make it easier to pull the hair through, and oh Lordy, that took forever! I only ended up having time to pull through half of the wefts at the back, I'll get to finishing that off at some stage when I rewear the costume.
I also had to glass-paint a plastic Christmas bauble to put in place of the large crystal during the performance, as the staff was too heavy with the large crystal in place for me to move it effectively during the performance. NOBODY noticed the switch till I pointed it out XD Successful plan was successful! On the topic of the crystal, not only did I buy a properly coloured one, I also lined the branches that hold it with felt so they don't scratch anymore, woooo!
So the other added bonus of WCS is that my costume is now DONE and I can put it away and get it out whenever I like. Now onto the next thing, huzzah! XD