For 2011, my Sakura-con experience was a little different than previous years. This year, along with a bunch of fellow friends and cosplayers, we decided to form a group to enter into the Costume Contest. So, this report will have more of a focus on the contest aspect of the convention rather than other aspects as previous years have elaborated on.
When you decide to participate as a group in the contest (depending on the level of intricacy you’re willing to put forth into the skit), you tend to start months in advance to start preparing for the show.
This is usually how most people go about preparing for the contest:
You start by bouncing off ideas of what you want to do for the skit as a group -> hash out the ideas in details -> debate about it some -> procrastinate a whole lot -> realizing time is diminishing -> start panicking -> and finally you start actually working on the stuff.
We decided on utilizing set props as well as (of course) our costumes (+costume props) as part of our skit. So, those were needed to be made prior our leaving for Sakura-con. We pooled our resources and invested a lot of time to put them together besides sewing and making each of our costumes. We even roped in friends that agreed to help as our stage ninjas. It was awesome. Aside from working on everything, we also made time to practice our skit. It was just weeks of making our backdrop, building a frame for the backdrop (and making sure it doesn’t fall), sewing our costumes, making props as part of our costumes, practicing for our skit, getting people to voice for our skit recording, editing and finalizing for our skit recording, and… more skit practicing plus finishing the costumes on time. The last two actually carried on into the late night of Day 1, just before the morning of for the contest!
So with limited amount of sleep, we woke up at the crack of dawn to start getting into our costumes and preparing for the actual event. As parts of some of our costumes were not practical to walk to streets in, some of us decided to finish changing when we get to the event hall. No point in jeopardizing the safety of your costume when the time hasn’t come yet, amirite?
When you first arrive at the event hall, you get to check-in with the coordinator to ensure and double-check your placement within the roster/schedule. As groups are being checked-in, the ones that are waiting are allowed a few minutes to go on the stage and have a feel for it before the actual deal. You don’t really have enough time to do a run-through of your entire skit but at least it gives you enough time to figure out where you need to place your sets and where to go for the people coming on the stage throughout your skit.
Once all of the groups are checked-in and nearing the time to let the audience into the hall for seating, the groups are led to the “Green Room” to wait until they are to go onstage. In other years, I’ve been to a “Green Room” at another convention, and it was a separate room adjacent to the actual hall. But as space was limited, the “Green Room” for this event was just the area behind the stage. It was dark as the lights are all dimmed, and we all waited in the dark while watching the back of the screens of the video feed from the camera.
It was anxiety-inducing, waiting for our turn on stage. So, a few of us decided to go outside through the back door and do some last minute practice run-throughs to pass the time and to shake off some of those anxious jitters. A word of advice if you decide to do this, keep to the sides as much as possible and don’t get in the way of the actual con staffs. They’re nice people and are just doing their jobs. Also, watch out for the traffic!
Everything after that was pretty much, go on stage, perform, make an efficient exit, and wait for the results with everyone else!
It was definitely an experience to go through this whole thing. It was tremendous fun as well. And I think that’s the whole point: to have fun. I’ve never thought I’d have the courage to go on stage and perform in front of a hall full of audiences. But it’s really not so bad when you have your friends on the stage with you, and the lights shining onstage are so bright you barely make out how far the event hall goes to. All of the practices helped too. It allowed me to just focus on where I needed to be, and what I needed to do. And you’ll find that you won’t even have time to be nervous onstage! By the time you realize it, you’ll have finished performing and it’s time to make your fabulous exit stage left.
So get out there and have fun! Try something new! It’ll sure be a memory you won’t forget for years to come!