Ascendio 2012: A Performer’s Perspective
Harry Potter conventions are not simply an annual/biannual event. They are an experience, and one that each individual fan creates for themselves. For many convention-goers, the typical con consists of going to panels, buying tons of merch, going to see a show or two, hanging out with friends and finally: the ball.
As a performer, while the majority of these events still hold true, our perspective on them is completely different. For months leading up to the convention, we rehearse several days a week on Skype and countless hours on our own to bring to the convention the best possible show we can. We do not even see each other all together in person until just days before the show, and often we arrive several days before the con even starts to rehearse. The first three to four days of a convention involve 12+ hours of rehearsal a day. We don’t stop until sleep claims us, only to begin again the next day, and the next, until it’s showtime.
A bit of background: I have performed in musical theatre for over 12 years, acting in at least two shows a year in everything from Starmites to High School Musical to Sweeney Todd. I started off performing at conventions at HPEF’s Infinitus in 2010 with the first full musical performance of The Final Battle by Lena Gabrielle and Mallory Vance (available in full on YouTube here), and then again in our revival of the show at LeakyCon in 2011. The transition from traditional theatre to online rehearsals was challenging, to say the least. Rehearsing not only included memorising lines and blocking, but also songs and a ton of dance numbers. Because we only had three major rehearsals in person before the performance, there were of course a number of mistakes, but considering the fact of what we managed to do, it was a huge accomplishment. Most musicals have months of time all together, rehearsing in the theatre in which they will be performing. As performers from all over the country (and even the world, in some cases), we do not have that luxury. We often don’t even get to work with mics and lighting until the performance itself–sometimes with interesting results.
This year at Ascendio, I played Narcissa in Mischief Managed and was a chorus member in Wands x Wands x Wizards, a musical revue. Not a lot of people see the hours of work that are put into the shows we perform, but for us, these performances take over our time at the convention. Performers are constantly rehearsing, working on lines, blocking, lyrics (try singing In “Noctem” without a lick of Latin knowledge!) and so much more. Because we are always surrounded by our fellow performers, we tend to become so interconnected that we become like family: a small-scale convention within the convention. There is drama, laughter, and hard work. We absolutely love what we do, and it is exhilarating to share that love with our audiences through dedication to our work and the passion we put into our shows. I don’t know anymore what conventions are like without performing at them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.