Adventures from TempleCon 2016: an Overview

After the fun of 2015’s convention, Daily Geekette just had to scope out this year’s TempleCon. A switch from February to August was only one of several noticeable changes at this year’s event. The con expanded, not just further into the Crowne Plaza Hotel, but outside as well! Vendors were now available in two locations: The Clockwork Bazaar, composed of folks cleverly advertising wares from hotel rooms, and The Garden Pavilion, a large outdoor tent with dealers at individual booths. My favorite, of course, was Leanna Renee Hieber’s table. Hieber is a talented author and actress (among many other things), whose name you may recognize from a guest post right here at DG.

IMG_4872_editIn addition to picking up a copy of Strangely Beautiful from her table, I also attended Hieber’s salon on Sunday where she read a passage from Eterna and Omega. The sequel to The Eterna Files was released earlier this month, so I had already read the book. Twice. But there’s nothing like having the author read those words aloud. I fully admit that certain passages gave me suspenseful tingles simply due to Heiber’s oratory skill. The author answered questions after the reading, rewarding the askers with books from her publisher, Tor Books. She also gave us plenty of juicy tidbits about projects to come: The Eterna Solution, which will conclude the Eterna trilogy, as well as the long over-due Miss Violet and The Great War, her next generation of Strangely Beautiful characters.

Leanna Renee Hieber’s literature may be my primary reason for TempleCon attendance, but it’s a con with a lot to offer. Gamers of all kinds can find community here, whether you’re into miniatures, cards, dice-rolling, board games, or video games. TempleCon’s biggest selling point is the free arcade of retro games. This year I was pleased to see it move from the rotunda to a room of its own, complete with traditional arcade lighting. The only downside was finding the controls to play sometimes proved tricky. But a great variety of games were available: Tapper, Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Qbert, Stargate (AKA Defender II), Tron, and many more.

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Meanwhile, the rotunda hosted live events, from a fashion show to multiple shadowcasts by RKO Army. Best known for decades of Rocky Horror Picture Show performances, RKO has added a few nerdier cult classics to its repertoire. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, “Once More with Feeling” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and “Jaynestown” from Firefly guaranteed entertainment on Sunday. While the rest of the convention wound down, we from DG settled in for an hour of Buffy.

IMG_4892editThe “Once More with Feeling” cast was talented, particularly with blocking and their use of space. The rotunda stage was small, and the minimalist set pieces were multi-purpose. The table around which the Scoobies offered their theories also served as the bridge where Tara sings to Willow during “Under Your Spell,” and the crypt where Spike musically pleads for peace from his feelings about Buffy. A low, scaffolding-like structure acted as a bed for multiple couple scenes, as well as the “throne” where the demon Sweet awaits the Slayer’s arrival. The audience periodically became part of the set, primarily if you were in the front row or an aisle seat. I was in the latter, so I became part of the graveyard Buffy strolled through in the opening song, and the road on the way to the Bronze during “Walk Through the Fire.” An audience member in the front row ended up on the receiving end of Buffy’s training montage during “Standing,” taking the place of a punching bag to everyone’s amusement.

Unlike RHPS, “Once More With…” didn’t have many audience call-outs. The only one of note was “Shut Up, Dawn!” any time the character of Buffy’s sister spoke. By the climax of the episode, the Dawn performer had duct tape over her mouth. More hilarious was the crew’s take on Willow and Tara at the end of “Under Your Spell.”  The cast members chose to play an innocent game of patty-cake and tickle each other while their episode counterparts engaged in some heavily-implied adult fun. I also enjoyed the use of glitter packets — it was a great way to convey the use of magic, although I don’t envy the first-row folks who probably took home bits of it on their person. All the cast members were great, but I want to give particular acknowledgement to Diz, who played multiple supporting characters such as the Horned Demon, Mustard Shirt Guy, and the Tap Dancing Victim to name a few. Those stage falls were a thing of comedic beauty.  Overall, I was quite impressed and I hope to see more RKO shadowcasts in the future.

There’s so much of TempleCon we weren’t able to cover! What did you like, readers? What should we look at next year?

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