Dear Constant Reader,
The very first thing I participated in at BurlyCon was the Master Scene Studies.
This year BurlyCon held their first Master Class track. As the name might imply, these were more in-depth classes for performers with a certain amount of experience. One had to apply to participate in the Master track and one of the questions was if you wanted to participate in the scene studies. I checked “yes” without even really thinking about and assuming I woudn’t be chosen and then promptly forgot about it.
I was therefore slightly panicked when I got the email that I had been accepted to present an act for the scene study. I had no idea what act I wanted feedback on. Scratch suggested “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” as it’s been dormant for a year and I’d be performing it for The BeauTease Holiday Special.
We each submitted video of the act (or you could perform live, but no one did). Mine was from Brrrlesque at Deacon Giles two years ago and while you could get the gist of the act, it wasn’t great video. Then the participants and any other interested Masters gathered at the appointed time. Our wonderful moderator, Champagne Sparkles, would play the video and then our very skilled facilitator, Fosse Jack, structured the discussion. Each performer got about half an hour to receive feedback, which was given both spoken and in the chat.
I was so nervous. I was scheduled last and while I’m glad I didn’t go first, I was sweating until my turn.
The feedback was excellent. Because we were all experienced performers, there was no hand-holding or ego-stroking, just direct and kind suggestions for improvement. It got pretty granular too. And these were good acts to start with, no matter what we thought of our individual performances, they were all solid and skilled and worthy to be on stage (it’s really hard for me to write that about myself, because we are all our own worst critics).
The really valuable part came next. We had about 4 days to incorporate the feedback and film the act (or prepare to perform it live) before meeting again. Champagne sent each of us the video of our feedback section and any comments from the chat, so we had that to refer to. The challenge for me was getting some halfway decent video.
I set up my camera in the living room and hoped for the best. My first attempt had autofocus going berserk. In the second I was partially out of frame for some of it. I was out of time and figured I’d have to perform live. Then I realized the noon deadline for submitting videos was Pacific time and I had three hours more than I thought. I recruited Scratch to set up the camera, so I’d at least avoid the issues I had trying to shoot alone. It was much better (even if you can hear him doing …. something … off camera during the act).
We regrouped, not exactly all the same people as the previous session, but mostly the same. In the same order as last time, we watched the new videos and got another round of commentary. It was so interesting to see what changes the performers had incorporated. And every act was that much better.
There were definite advantages to doing this in a virtual format. Long ago I participated in a Peer Review at BurlyCon and it’s hard to hear feedback right after you’ve performed, even if that’s what you’re there for. At least for me; I’m still in performance headspace. By submitting video, especially video of something I performed almost two years ago, I could be a little more dispassionate. And I could see myself instead of being in myself, if that makes sense. Having just watched the act with an outside eye, it was easier to absorb the feedback.
One of the presenters filmed two different endings for her act (plus a hilarious blooper), something she couldn’t have done easily live,. Because I was going to be performing my act on video in roughly where I had filmed it, some of the feedback was suggestions for filming or editing. Most importantly, having to immediately put the feedback into use and then revisit the act was so valuable, and impossible if we’d been in-person for long weekend
I attended the following session, where I could relax and just watch the performances without stressing about my own. Unfortunately I could only attend the initial meeting, as I had a conflict during the revisit. I’m so curious about how those three acts turned out!
If you’re curious about how my act turned out, tune in to The BeauTease Holiday Special, dropping in less than two weeks!