Astronomicon 13The masquerade at the Astronomicon 13 science fiction convention, Henrietta NY, November 4-6, 2022, was scheduled for 8:00 PM on the Saturday of the convention. Scheduled in the same room for 9:00 PM was a Cosplay Ball, with a dance floor and DJ. For weeks we wrestled with a schedule that would let the hotel reset the room for the ball. That required removing the rows of audience seating, laying down a 16-foot by 16-foot dance floor in the middle of the room, setting up seating at the sides of the room, and adding some tables. How could we accomplish this?

I recognized that the room would be vacant for some hours before the masquerade, during which hotel staff could set the room for the ball. Who needs a raised stage? Who need an audience seated in rows in front of the stage? I decided that we would use the dance floor as the stage, eliminating the hazard of falling off a raised stage and eliminating the need for any wings at all, with the audience seated to each side of the floor and the judges at a raised table on the third side. The entrants would enter the room from the hall by one door and exit by a second door. The MC would have a lectern with mike at floor level.

We had seven entrants. They had already been told that there was no lighting other than the room lights and no provision for recorded sound. When they checked in, I briefed them on the room layout and advised them to play to all three sides, the audience left and right and the judges straight ahead. No one found that unworkable. In fact, one entry’s large wheeled prop could be used more easily than if we had a raised stage. The room was small enough that the audience had pretty good sight lines and all the entrants made good use of the three-sided setup.

There had been no workmanship judging prior to curtain time but we had four judges who could consider workmanship as well as performance and who included some very experienced costumers. They wanted to play, too! They had the mikes used for panels at the table. Could they ask questions of the entrants? Estimating that our seven entrants would take less than half an hour but that we had a full hour to kill, I agreed and told the entrants they’d have an opportunity to answer the judges’ questions following their presentations. They all were game. This spaced out the show time nicely, leaving only a few minutes following the presentations for the audience to leave, the DJ to get ready, and the ball-goers to arrive. The judges were quite prompt in making decisions and we were able to delay the beginning of the dancing a bit to make the awards.

I felt that the stage arrangements worked extremely well, especially for a smallish masquerade with no large groups. Had we had the ability to offer lights and sound, they would have fit the size and location of the stage with little difficulty.

Most of all, the entrants had no problem adjusting to the room set-up and the audience enjoyed the show! Entrants may be more flexible in their ability to make presentations than some of seem to think.

Byron Connell
New Jersey/New York Costumers’ Guild