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Creation Strong Women of Sci Fi Convention

Cherry Hill Hilton
11th-13th August 2002

Hudson Leick Danielle Cormack Danielle Cormack Hudson Leick in her Bitter Suite dress Danielle Cormack Danielle Cormack Tim Omundsen Hudson and her mother Hudson and her father Claire Stansield and Danielle Cormack sign autographs

Creation advertised this year's Cherry Hill convention as a "Strong Women of Sci Fi" event. However, it was pretty much all-XENA, with Virgina Hey (Farscape's Zhaan) the only non-XENA actor. (And I wonder what Tim Omundsen thought about that strong women thing...)

Of the guests, 3 had been at the UK Starfury convention a few weeks before - Hudson Leick, Claire Stansfield and Tim Omundsen. The main draw was Renee O'Connor in the Saturday evening entertainment. She was appearing in 'Love Letters', a play, with Tim Omundsen. The other main attraction was the first convention appearence in far too long of Danielle Cormack, who played Ephiny on the show.

The weekend kicked off on Frday night with entertainment from Claire Stansfield and Danielle Cormack. They did some excerpts from The Vagina Monolgues, which Danielle has just completed with Lucy Lawless in Auckland. Claire also showed her 'dolly porn' as she calls it. Her home movies with the XENA action figure dolls. She showed the Alti/Callisto one that we saw at Starfury and also a new one with Danielle and Tim Omundsen. Apparently Alti has been dumped by Callisto in the latest installment! There was also some fanfiction reading. I wasn't at this, but apparently, the sound was particularly bad, and it was very difficult to hear. A problem that occurred on Saturday too..

The convention began with Claire Stansfield on the Saturday. Claire was fairly low key - or maybe it was the terrible sound system, and I could barely hear anything she said. She spoke about her recent audition for Quentin Tarentino again, and how she has given up acting. She mentioned that she is now developing a line of clothing and is working office hours these days. She mentioned seeing Lucy and Rob and the new baby the other week and said how sweet the new little boy is. She mentioned appearing in London at the Starfury convention, and how we were all drunk at the cocktail party! (We were not!!) and how out of breathe the punk dancing made her. She also mentioned how she was praying that she would fit into Tim Omundsen's jeans alright when they swapped clothes! She did a few rude impersonations of some possible yoga poses - she said her and Danielle were considering crashing Hudson's yoga class ($100 a pop on the Saturday morning...no thanks!)
One of the problems the whole weekend was the poor sound and lighting. Well, there WAS no proper lighting. They just used the hall lights (hence my pretty crappy photos.) As I mentioned, the sound was poor - however, once they turned it up halfway through Saturday things were better. Also, there were no microphones for people asking question, and it was a big hall, so you couldn't hear what anyone asked. And unfortunately none of the guests seemed to realise, and so didn't repeat the questions for those of us further back. Anyway, more moans to come later....

Virginia Hey from Farscape was next up, and unfortunately, she had the low volume microphones and was a muttered. I hardly heard half of what she said, plus people were talking during her appearence too. I *think* she spoke about a return to Farscape for a recent episode. Virginia played Zhaan, the blue priestess. She left during season 3, after 3 years of being bald and painted blue every day! I for one miss her character, and look forward to seeing her, even in a one off. She spoke about her problems getting a work permit for the US. Some friends of mine went to talk to her and get her autograph outside and found her to be very charming.

Danielle Cormack was the final guest for Saturday, and she bounced on looking really pleased to be there. She was full of energy and seemed lively and enthusiastic throughout. Maybe its because she hasn't done any conventions in a while. Danielle is very much a working actress, and has been very busy on the New Zealand theatre scene. She also had some interesting things to say about XENA. She wasn't that impressed with her work on the show - she did not consider it her best work by a long chalk, but she said how she has come to realise only quite recently how important the show has been in terms of its influence and the message of empowerment. She also spoke quite a bit about Kevin Smith, who she knew very well and worked with several times. Interestingly, she said that Kevin was not appreciated at all in New Zealand, and that she felt able to talk to the people here, because we understood what a talented and special actor he was. She said that he was not recognised as that in new Zealand. (I always thought he WAS popular there...)

Danielle was asked about her approach to acting and playing characters of all ages in The Vagina Monolgues. Her answer was interesting, she said that she considered it her job to be able to portray all those characters. That as an actor, you SHOULD be able to play a range of roles, not just look good. She said she had not had any formal acting training, but that she took her acting seriously and if she wasn't sure how to play a role, she *learnt* how to do it. Hearing Danielle's passion for acting was very refreshing, and you got the impression that some of Ephiny's more passive episodes must have been a bit of a bore for her.

On the subject of Ephiny, she said that really the decision to kill her off was actually partly hers. They weren't going to be developing her character much more, and she had the choice of whether to have an attack and recovery, or to die. She thought it would be more dramatic and interesting to kill the character. However, she did say she was hoping for a few minutes of a long drawn out death as opposed to the quick 10 second, blink and she's dead scene!

She gave us a quick burst of her singing - Janis Joplin I think it was - which was very good!
Some wierd person asked Danielle how Ephiny and her centaur husband Phantes "got it on!" Danielle was very funny and said she had to try not to picture it in her head or she would have been walking funny all episode! She also joked that maybe Ephiny had a thing for Argo! All in all Danielle was a lot of fun, and my favourite guest of the weekend.

As well as the guests, there were videos, a trivia quiz (which I was in!) and an auction. The most significant video was a clip from Sharon Delaney's trip to see Renee in Macbeth. Renee spoke about the role and her approach to it, and did some exercises for the camera, including practising some of hr speeches. For people who didn't get a chance to see her, it is a must see and will be with the next fan club. (Read My Macbeth report)

The big draw for the weekend was, of course, Renee O'Connor in the Love Letters play with Tim Omundsen. This took place on the Saturday evening, and Creation were VERY rigorous about security, searching bags and everything for any sort of recording devices, cell phones or cameras. By the total absence of flashes I am guessing it worked!

I had heard different things about this play. It is a Creation staple - having been performed by Farscape actors at a recent convention, as well as other Xena/Hercules actors. I had also been told that the actors jsut sat on chairs and read from a script. It didn't sound that dynamic. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. For one thing, it was almost and hour and a half - having paid $60 I was glad we got out moneys worth. Also, I thought it was very well written, and Renee and Tim were great. The play was a series of letter between a man and a woman over a period of about 40 years. The test of any event is whether you are looking at your watch wondering how much longer its is going on for, and I can honestly say I didn't look at my watch. It was a very engaging play. Tim is a very fine actor and has an excellent voice, Renee also did very well, and even got to swear!! They conveyed the humour and emotion very well indeed, and I enjoyed it a lot.

At the end, Renee's husband Steve came on with some flowers for her - he certainly is VERY handsome! I think we also got a glimpse of baby Miles too. People started leaving, but we turned around quickly when Renee came back out to say a few thank yous. A few people yelled out questions to her about what she was doing next, and she laughed saying she was just getting back to work after the baby. She took the opportunity to say a big thank you to the fans for their support, which was nice.

Sunday was more of the same, but was lower key. Quite a few people had just come for the Saturday to see Renee I think. Tim Omundsen came on first. He had relatives there - his sister and 2 small nephews, who chased each other round the hall during his talk! Consequently, there was no swearing and he was on his best behaviour pretty much. He talked mainly about the show Judging Amy - as he had at Starfury. As I don't watch that show, it pretty much went over my head. He also mentioned a film with Renee Zellweger and Ewan MacGregor that will be out soon.

The middle part of the day was pretty much filler stuff, videos, a fancy dress competition (won by Carly from the UK woo hoo for the Brits!) and I think Virginia Hey was on again. There was also an auction, although not too many bargains to be had.

The weekend finished with Hudson Leick taking the stage. Like Tim, she had family there with her - her mum and dad. Her mother came onto the stage right at the start and talked for a while, and Hudson got her dad up later too. As with Tim, she was well behaved too! I think we got the best deal at the UK convention where the stars were more wild! Hudson did her usual appearance of basically playing with the crowd, and got some people up on stage with her. A very cute little girl dressed as Callisto, and also Carly who won the fancy dress as Callisto. I can't remember her mentioning anything to do with XENA... Except for when she disappeared for a few minutes to return in her costume from The Bitter Suite - that she was auctioning for charity. The bidding took a long time, with Hudson's dad getting in on it! He said it was because it was the only thing he had seen her in that covered her up! Anyway, it went to someone else in the end for about $3000 I think.

It is always fun to do a XENA convention, although I was very disappointed with the merchandise on sale - NO BOBBLEHEAD DOLLS!! I know there's not a lot of new merchandise around now, but there was a very poor choice, apart from Creations very expensive Lucy and Renee autographs.

Wonder who'll be there next year?

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