We also gave a panel on acting, on multicultural Steampunk, and on Trends in Steampunk Music and Dance. Unfortunately no one discovered that all the sound equipment in our panel room was missing and only discovered at the last minute before our panel on music and dance. The courteous and rapidly responding con staff and our own preparedness (bringing a backup dvd player), saved the day. (or the panel at least) Feel free to take a look at photos and our "Steampunk Dance" video on the Vimeo site (similar to you tube, but better picture quality). http://vimeo.com/21393289
but please read the description first so it isn't taken out of context. Thanks!
We had a number of other exploits including a woman attempting to join one of our panels right after it started. She strode in briskly right after it started, sat at the head table with us, and announced to the audience that she "had been asked last minute to sit in on the "Multicultural Steampunk Ensembles Panel" due to her Master's degree in anthropology and expertise in the field. As there was no way to call her a liar and throw her out without looking like very rude, uncouth, boors, and we were unable to pull her aside to make certain she wasn't the well meaning victim of a practical joke, I simply gently redirected when she kept trying to interrupt scheduled lesson plan content with war stories and self promotion. She then vanished mysteriously, perhaps because she wasn't allowed to self promote enough, when we presented our short comedy "The Trouble With Aztecs" as a practical demonstration of use of multicultural ensembles in Steampunk and so we could discuss pitfalls to avoid afterwards.
(We later learned she had been given a last minute list of panels she was asked to assist in by another group and she got confused and walked into the wrong one and sort of tried to take over panel conversations without so much as introducing herself, to us at least, but she was very apologetic when I finally tracked her down to discuss the matter.)
We managed to get past that disruption and still perform the comedic play "The Trouble With Aztecs" right before the Q&A in this "Multicultural Panel" and it went very well. Of course I tend to judge a comedic play by three things:
We discussed how almost any element specifically dealing with names of Aztec deities, not out of fear of offending the good Christians attending (I mean they do realize that the Aztecs did in fact have entities they referred to as Gods, so what would be the point?), but rather to avoid offending any real Aztecs (yes they still exist...we are formally adopted by that culture) that happened to attend (not that rare in Texas) that might not have liked elements of their faith brought into a comedy play. I also removed anything that even referred to the mention of human sacrifice (though it pains me to avoid history to that degree) or that used funny references toward Europeans that too accurately described what the Aztecs thought of the uncouth, uncultured, unwashed, and foul smelling criminals and mercenaries that the Spanish Crown could afford to send out as Conquistadors. At that point, we needed funny bits to fill in all the gaps, so we stole cheap laughs from old films and made it Aztecified, sort of. Actually it all worked even better than expected and everyone seemed happy as they left. I tried to film it, but we seem to keep having problems with our video camera or any other camera when we try to film plays. I'll have to have a long talk with our "House Gremlin" about that.
The head of programming for the convention was even more shocked about this woman's "attempted highjacking of the panel" as he described it, than we were, but the only real problem was that I spent so much time and energy keeping her from taking over the discussion, while trying to avoid appearing to do so, that 3 of my four panelists (whose credentials on the topic make us less than impressed with hers) never got a chance to speak much outside of the play. Ah well. It will make a funny story for us one day, but may do very unfortunate things to the woman's credibility. She may actually have been convinced she was there at our request, but that would seem unlikely since she never spoke to any of us before or afterwards and did not even introduce herself aside from stating credentials without a name. Another one for the convention manuals. Always expect the unexpected and keep the security number handy during panels!
In the program director's defense, he handled everything beautifully for us, but then all of our events were set up and re-adjusted as needed more than 3 weeks before the event. Things start to go wonky for most convention staff when they get overloaded the last week before hand, and they sometimes have catastrophic brain cramps, like in this case, when the overload gets too great or the situation, as in this case, is too unfamiliar to them. The other item I would like to mention is that when I approached their program director for comments about the incident, he took full responsibility for the confusion and fallout, did not blame anyone else about anything, and stated gratitude to Toby and the band for helping them fix the problem at the last minute. That's the kind of human being I prefer to work with! (This is based on my own interactions with Todd Carlton when I contacted him for a public statement for the magazine review, but there is speculation and rumor that he may have been less forthcoming earlier-however-Toby Lawhon also told me directly, that Mr. Carlton accepted full responsibility and was very apologetic when they agreed to reschedule and follow through with the concert.) Mr. Carlton even said that if Toby was as courteous about the whole thing in what he was saying about the incident at this point then it was just another sign of the level of professionalism of Marquis of Vaudville and he really appreciated and respected that in him. Did these people just step out of a time machine or something? Where did all this gentlemanly behavior come from? Hmmm...maybe all this Steampunk stuff isn't just fiction after all?
The full review including information about non-steampunk related performers on the following site: