Multimedia Science Fiction Conventions

Cabaret and Fancy Dress

As usual, we will have a Fancy Dress and a Cabaret at Redemption ’22. The Fancy Dress is a chance for fans to show off their costuming skills. The Cabaret will be a showcase for other fannish skills such as belly dancing, comedy sketches, filk songs, musicians, etc. The wider the range, the better (Acts should be no more than three minutes without prior agreement from Programme staff).

We’re looking for people to take part in the Fancy Dress and Cabaret. If you’re planning to join in, please let us know, so that we can talk to you in advance about any technical requirements.

What is the Fancy Dress?

If you’ve never been to a Redemption, you might be wondering what the Fancy Dress is. It’s often called “Masquerade” at other conventions. It’s an evening event where fans display their creativity by parading the costumes they’ve made, usually on a stage. The Fancy Dress judges award a number of prizes afterwards. Anyone can enter, and the costumes are equally varied: from well-known characters to abstract concepts, from single people to large groups, from tiny toddlers to— you get the picture. Fans often accompany their costume presentation with a brief snip of music (Tech can help here), or dialogue, or some other performance. Often there are sketches, but it can just be a simple presentation of the costume. Some costumes were months in the making, some were bin-liners and cardboard earlier in the day. All are welcome.

Handy tip: if you’re making a costume that references a character from television, movies, comics, etc., then bringing a photo/picture of the original character (in that costume) will greatly help the judges, who may not be aware of the original. If they know what you’re reproducing, they can judge how well you’ve done it.

Our camera policy restricts flash photography during most of the Fancy Dress, because of safety concerns.

Don’t you mean “Masquerade”?

Yes. Different name, same thing. Fancy Dress. Masquerade. ToMAYto, ToMAHto.

What is the Cabaret?

The Cabaret’s a Redemption tradition. What is it? Well, it’s a lot like the Fancy Dress, in that it’s fans on stage entertaining other fans. Some Fancy Dress entries are only peripherally about a costume – the costume’s more just the excuse for some entertaining skit or sketch. The cabaret takes this further, in that the costume is entirely optional – it’s about the performance: comedy, drama, singing, dancing, juggling, brain surgery, basket weaving – whatever you can do that you think will be entertaining. And it’s non-competitive. Fancy Dress entries are judged, while cabaret entries are not.

Can I Help Out?

We’re always eager to have volunteers back-stage. Jobs involve herding the entries (it’s a bit like herding cats, only with more leather and chiffon), getting folks on and off the stage, and shifting props around. See the volunteer page to get involved.

Which One Do I Enter?

Should you be in the Fancy Dress or the Cabaret? Well, that’s largely up to you. If you’re unsure, talk to us, and we’ll sort it out.

How Do I Enter?

You can do so on-line, by editing your membership details to tick the appropriate box. There’s only the one check-box for both Fancy Dress (which is called Masquerade on the form. See? Same thing) and Cabaret; we’ll talk with you and sort the details out later.

Alternatively, you can enter in person. We’ll be having two sign-up sessions, on each of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, where we’ll ask you details about your entry. Then our wise and all-knowing stage manager will sort the entries into some kind of order, and during Saturday afternoon, there’s a rehearsal. This means you get to make sure you can get on and off the stage, we know which entrances and exits you’re using, and our stage hands know how which microphones go where, and when. So, that’s:

  • Sign-up: In advance, or in person on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning;
  • Rehearsal: Saturday afternoon;
  • Performance: Saturday evening.

Please note: we’d really, really like to hear from you as soon as possible, and that means before the con if possible. The more information we have about the entries in advance, the more likely it is that we can fulfil your requests.

How long can my entry be?

Not long. We have an upper limit of three minutes per entry, and that’s a really long time on stage. We recommend you time your act in advance. Short and punchy is better.

What formats can Tech handle?

We’ll be able to accept the following formats:

  • Physical media:
    • Okay: CD, DVD, USB drive
    • Not okay: Cassette Tape, Record, Blu-Ray, HD
  • Media formats:
    • Okay: mp3, wav, mp4, avi
  • Document formats:
    • Okay: ppt, doc, xls, pdf

Essentially, if a relatively modern Microsoft Windows PC can handle it, we can probably deal with it. However, if in doubt, please check with us in advance.

What sort of things do you need to know?

The entry form that we will be using for sign up is available for downloading. The rest of this page talks about the information that the form asks for. We will go through the form with you when you enter, but the questions might be helpful now for planning your act.

Masquerade/Cabaret: We use the same form for both, and delete as applicable.

Duration: How long you think your act will be. We recommend timing it.

Name of Entry: How you’d like to be announced. “Fred and Julie,” “Star Trek: the Google Generation,” and so on.

Names of people involved: This is mostly important for the Fancy Dress, because we’re awarding prizes. We want to know who’s on stage, and we also want to know whether anyone else should be given credit (such as costumes made by mom, or the script’s written by someone who’s not on stage).

Costumes: Chaos/Workmanship award/Bought: This is so that we know how to judge your costume. Only relevant for the Fancy Dress.

Music: Yes/No. Music’s a whole section by itself. Almost all entries involve the Tech Crew playing music in some way or other. There are a few exceptions: comedy sketches often don’t, and if the entry consists of your string quartet playing some Handel, then obviously, you don’t need backing music from Tech. But other than that, you probably do, so give it some thought.

Track Num: If you’ve brought a CD, Tech want to know which track to play. And they’ll start playing it from the start. Bear that in mind.

Medium: CD, DVD, memory stick with MP3s. If we know the medium, it’s easier to make sure we’ve got the right one.

Return/Discard/Tech: “Return” means “you’d like it back, please”. All such CDs, etc. will be retrievable from Ops on Sunday, after the Cabaret’s finished. “Discard” means “You’ve burned a CD especially for this event, and don’t care about it afterwards; Tech can chuck it in the bin.” “Tech” means “Tech are providing some backing music of their own.”

Name/Label on Music: This is so that we can identify your CD, in the pile with all the other entries’ CDs.

Music Cues: This is when you want the music. For example, do you want it on entry? On exit? Playing throughout? For Fancy Dress entries, it’s common that we’ll fade the music in, then you want on and display your costume while it plays, and then we fade the music out as you walk off the stage. Thus, the audience knows you’ve finished. But if you’ve got dialogue, you’d want the music down (or off) once you’re on stage. Think about this.

Special Lighting needed? Normally, the lights are on. Occasionally, we’ll have different lighting: perhaps it should be off, until you’re centre stage. Perhaps you want an overall red tint, because you’re playing a Bad Guy.

Lighting cues: If you want any kind of changes in light (when to fade down, when to turn off or on suddenly, for example), then we need to know what you’ll be doing when this should happen. For example, “fade to black when everyone falls down dead.”

Script: Y/N: This is whether you’ve got a script to perform to (compared to giving us a twirl to admire your costume).

Included? Have you given us a copy of the script, so that we can scribble on it and follow it for cues?

Announcement before: This is where you’d write text for the MC to read out before you come on. You can use this to set the audience’s expectations, or to set a scene.

Announcement after: This is what the MC will say after you leave the stage. It’s up to you which announcement you want (you can have both), and how you use it. One or other is often used to convey the punchline, if the entry is humorous.

Microphones required Y/N: Do you need any microphones for your entry. Note: it’s a big hall – if you’re speaking, singing or playing an instrument, you’ll need to be amped up or only the first two rows will hear you.

Number required? How many microphones do you need?

Stage setup required? This is where we note down how the stage needs to be set. For example, you might need a table and two chairs for your sketch, or a microphone for your harp. Alternatively, you may need all the microphones on stands cleared, because your ballet will cover the whole stage, and they’ll be in the way. Much of this will depend on who’s on before you, and what their requirements are.

Assistance required? Do you need assistance to get onto or off the stage? There are steps, and there are cables to be avoided, and some costumes inhibit agility, movement or vision. This tells us whether we need to have a stage hand or two ready.