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Masquerade walk-ons for the beginner.

So you want to show off that costume you’ve put (sometimes literal) blood, sweat, and tears into by participating in a masquerade walk-on? Below are some handy pointers for the beginner.

I’m going with the assumption, in this article, that you are brand-new to the world of cosplay, or at least to the world of walk-ons in masquerades (I will do a follow-up article regarding skits and performances at a later date).  Hopefully the things you will read in the following paragraphs will make sense, and encourage you to participate in such an enjoyable part of cosplay.  So, without further ado, let us begin!

One – Sign up in good time.

Registering for Minamicon 3 years ago.
Registering for Minamicon 3 years ago.

You’d think this is a logical course of action, but I have been on the cosplay scene long enough to watch panicked masquerade entrants-to-be practically throwing pieces of paper at convention staff. Most, if not all, UK conventions have an online sign-up form for masquerades, asking basic information such as your name, badge name, character being portrayed, and series said character is from. Further information, such as music requests or microphone requests (for skits) is available to many – but not all – masquerades. For example, at dearly departed Ayacon’s masquerades entrants to the parade section were not offered a music request, as there simply was no time for that. However, entrants in the competition section were given music requests. Rules often vary slightly from convention to convention: When in doubt, check with people who have been, or contact the appropriate committee member.

Two – Get your music in early, and bring a copy of it (on data stick or similar) to the event, just in case (or if P-chan’s in charge of tech*).

Again, this seems very obvious, but (again) I have seen panic during masquerade briefings when music had either not been sent or had somehow been lost. If you bring a spare copy of the music you want, it negates said panic if the worst happens and the track you emailed has taken a long walk or otherwise disappears.

*see this article

Three – Write down everything you need the announcer to know.

"Don't let GG come up with his own intro..."
“Don’t let GG come up with his own intro…”

This applies if you are cosplaying something with a name that might be difficult to pronounce, or if you want something specific said about the costume. Are you cosplaying a particular version of Hatsune Miku? Is your Sailor Moon costume from the original musicals as opposed to the reboot? If you want people to know this, pop it in writing on your masquerade registration form. Obviously, there is only so much time an announcer has, so keep it concise, but give him/her something to go with. If the name might be difficult to pronounce (please bear in mind that not all announcers are anime aficionados and may have trouble with Japanese pronunciations) perhaps consider writing the name phonetically for them.

Four – The walk-on: Think of how your character would behave.

Two different masquerades, two different entrances. (Photo by Nert)
Two different masquerades, two different entrances. (Photo by Nert)

I’m not asking all masquerade entrants to be trained actors, but it often pays to bear in mind the way your character might move or behave during the walk-on. Is your character like Sailor Moon, bouncy and excitable? Or like Princess Zelda, elegant and smooth? The little touches you give your walk-on enhance the experience for you (especially if ‘getting into character’ helps alleviate stage fright as it does for me) and makes it even more interesting for the audience. In addition, it can make for some wonderful photographs.

Five – The walk-on continued: Don’t run!

Now, this seems really obvious, but it’s something even seasoned masqueraders can fall down on, myself included. I have been told numerous times by other convention-goers that I need to slow down when walking on. When you step through the doors/curtains/step onstage, things tend to feel a little overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel as though you are moving far too slowly. That in mind, you might find yourself rushing to the spot, holding a pose briefly, then fleeing for backstage. Instead, take your time walking, and when you get to your mark(s), hold your pose(s) for a slow count of ten: Give the audience time to admire that costume you have spent so long on, the photographers chance to get some good shots of said costume, and the judges time to regard you. The count of ten can and will seem far, far too slow, but trust me. For the time being, you are centre-stage: Own it!

Different poses for different characters. (Photos by Nert)
Different poses for different characters. (Photos by Nert)

And finally…

Six – Exiting: Walk like you are still being watched – chances are you are!

When you have done with your posing, and are ready to leave the stage, remember step four above: I appreciate that by now you may well be aching from an unwieldy costume, or just plain sick of being on your feet, but remember that there is still an audience, and though some will have understood the signs of “Righto, I’m off” from you, others might still be interested in looking at your costume (often photographers). With this in mind, keep moving/acting as your character until you’re out of sight. The little things matter.

Doing as the Doctor says: Run[ning]! (Photo by Nert)
Doing as the Doctor says: Run[ning]! (Photo by Nert)
In closing, masquerades are wonderful and fun things to do, if a little nerve-wracking the first few times, but they really are worth it for the experience. Especially Minamicon’s masquerades.

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