Expo Wrap-up Part Two: the Paneling

So in addition to volunteering and trying to cram as many nerdgasmy experiences as possible into three days, I was also there as an exhibitor of sorts. My company, Scorpio Theatre, was there to promote ourselves and our upcoming production of Who Knows, a Doctor Who tribute show we’re putting up… later this month. Wow. I guess that’s the case now…

This means that for the second year, I was a panelist at the Expo.

We ran four panels over the week, three of which I participated in. Here’s some highlights.

Writing Workshop

On Thursday, myself and the head of the Alberta Playwrights Network were running a script workshop for aspiring writers. The basic plan was that people would send us their scripts, we’d read them, and then give feedback. The amount of scripts we received would determine how long each person got and if we’d have time for walk-ins. We did end up having a walk-in.

The trick was that this panel was at 5:00 on a Thursday. Which meant leaving work early, fighting traffic, finding somewhere near the Stampede to park, finding my panelist badge, and getting to my room. Which I managed… 11 minutes late. And as I burst into my room, I found out that we had an audience.

Wasn’t expecting that.

I’d read the scripts we’d had submitted, and was ready to give thoughts and tips and feedback. I was less prepared to be entertaining while that happened. So, I had to improvise a little. Use specific examples from the submitted scripts to impart general lessons. I also invited some people onstage to do a reading of one of them, because that’s the “workshop as group activity” plan I know.

Ultimately it went well. By hour three it was just us and the remaining writer, but I think we imparted something valuable, and there was definitely one screenplay I hope to eventually see performed (I’d tell you the details but I don’t know how okay the author would be with their synopsis being spread around). Afterwards, we were free to sneak into the acting workshop Scorpio was running next door, see how that was going.

Writing and Directing

This one was excited for. Me and four friends swapping stories and giving tips on writing and directing. Similar to my panel on script writing last year, which was super fun.

Just a couple of things we hadn’t considered.

First, the script writing panel the previous year had just been the three of us. Now there was five. A little bloated, maybe…

Second, writing and directing are fairly separate entities. There’s not a great deal of overlap between them.

Third, this panel involved some of the most verbose people in the company. People who tend to take their time making a point or telling a story. Which is most cases is good, because we usually have pretty cool or interesting things to say.

In fact all of these problems would be minor to the point of not being worth mentioning if it weren’t for the fourth issue: we had 45 minutes.

There’s nothing we can do about that last one. Every panel from Friday on gets 45 minutes. The improv troupe, the professor doing an apparently impressive talk about the narrative similarities between Aliens and Beowulf, Bill freaking Paxton gets 45 minutes and then he’s done. But put that many people who have a difficult relationship with brevity on one panel, and you might not be able to field a lot of questions.

Still, it went well, we had fun, and although it cost me my chance to see the Highlander panel, I’d say it was worth it.

Who Knows

Now this was the big one. The Expo graciously agreed to give us a full panel to plug Who Knows, which was awesome enough in and of itself. They also put us in the second largest room they had, the Boyce Theatre. Well, the second biggest based on last year. There was now also the Expo Pavilion. Not sure which one of those was bigger. But in essence, there’s the Corral, the venue that seats thousands, that gets used for Nathan Fillion or Matt Smith or the Game of Thrones cast, and then there’s the Boyce, that gets used for Wil Wheaton, the cast of Highlander, and now, apparently, us.

Our first order of business: unveil our first promo video.

Second: introduce selected cast members. Third: try as hard as I could not to dominate the entire panel with elaborate answers about all the Who lore this show is soaked in.

Now this one was fun. The audience wasn’t full, but definitely had enough people to justify a larger room. We got some decent laughs on the video, fielded questions from the audience, and hopefully convinced some folk to come see the show. Since, you know, that was the whole point.

I don’t often get to give my thoughts on a project to a seated audience. And I have to say… it’s pretty satisfying.

Expo’s always a good time for me. I get tired from the long days, sore from spending so much time wandering the concrete floors, and it’s by no means cheap, but every time I’m left satisfied and excited for next year.

Maybe I should sneak up to Edmonton when their Expo happens in September… maybe.

Author: danny_g

Danny G, your humble host and blogger, has been working in community theatre since 1996, travelling the globe on and off since 1980, and caring more about nerd stuff than he should since before he can remember. And now he shares all of that with you.

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