What size is the stage?
Our stage is 20′ x 32′; some of that will be taken up by the wings.
Can I wear my competition costume in the halls before I go on stage?
While it’s not expressly forbidden, many people prefer not to wear their competition costume before taking it onstage for a few reasons. First, you deprive the audience the delight of a collective ”ooo!” and “ahh!” over your fabulous work when you take your turn. Second, you could prejudice the masquerade judges ahead of time if they happen to see you in the halls or checking out the wares in the Dealers Room earlier in the day. Third, you could damage your costume, and many competition costumes are too large and/or unwieldy to wear comfortably in the halls. However it is completely your choice and there is no penalty if you wish to get the maximum amount of wear out of your costume.
I’ve heard that the masquerades have “Tech Rehearsals”. What are those?
This is a scheduled time during the day before the masquerade for meeting with the technical crew who run the masquerade lights and sound. You will find the sign up sheet at the Masquerade Director’s registration table. Generally speaking, you get about 5 – 8 minutes to show the crew how you will enter, explain any light or music cues you may have, and they’ll make notes about the colors of your costume so that it is lit in the best way possible. Your actual stage movement should already have been planned out. You will probably get one or two opportunities to run through your presentation, and then you will be done. It is very important to be on time as the schedule is usually quite tight.
What is the Skill Division system?
It’s a system for protecting those who have little to no experience in costume presentation and workmanship from having to compete with those who have costumed for many years. Entrants may always choose to compete at a higher division if they feel their skills are adequate, but they may not compete lower than a division in which they’ve won in the past.
For a more detailed explanation, have a look at the ICG Guidelines for Ensuring Fairness in Competitions: http://costume.org/documents/fairness.html
How do I know at what level I should enter?
If the aforementioned document still leaves you unsure, contact the Masquerade Director for the given event, and they will be more than happy to help you.
I’ve heard something referred to as the “Green Room”. What’s that for?
Just like a theatrical Green Room, it is a staging area where the competing costumers meet to put on or tweak their outfits in preparation for their presentations. The Green Room is traditionally open 2 hours or more before the beginning of the masquerade. You are checked in by the Green Room Manager, who will assign you to a “den” of costumers where you can rest in chairs and put a small prop on a table.
Last minute preparations are normal, but everyone is encouraged to be considerate of their fellow costumers by not actually constructing pieces that take up large amounts of room. Light snacks are usually available, is as water.
Once you have most, if not all of your costume put on, you will have an informal photo taken of you for the presentation judges who will be seated in front of the stage. This will serve as a memory aid for them during deliberations. Typically, Workmanship judging takes place in some corner of the Green Room before the show.
Once your costume is completely put on and ready to show, you will have an official Masquerade Photo taken. It is not only a record of your creation, but you will have the opportunity to purchase copies of the photo and any others of your fellow costumers. These photos will also appear in the official records of the convention.
I’ve seen mention of something called a “Den Mom”. What’s that?
Den moms and den dads are Green Room volunteers who are there to assist the competitors with their last minute preparations like putting on a head piece, zipping up dresses, etc. Often, these volunteers are costumers themselves, or experienced back-stage helpers. Usually, one den mom or dad is assigned to 4 – 5 costumers or entries. A good den mom or dad will monitor their charges, checking to make sure they stay comfortable by bringing them water, or a snack or keep them cool with a hand fan. They may also lead the costumer to their backstage position before going before the audience. Without den moms and dads, there would be a lot of uncomfortable competitors!
Workmanship judging sounds intimidating. How does that work, and why should I bother?
Everyone is encouraged to submit to Workmanship judging. The judges are there to look for something which they believe should receive recognition of excellence – not to find what you did wrong. You can submit your whole costume, or just one specific item that you are proud of. If you had to buy a particular accessory that you couldn’t make yourself, you should make that known to the judge(s).
The judging usually takes place in the Green Room before the masquerade, but sometimes continues while the show is in progress. Contestants are allowed a few minutes to explain how they made their costumes, and the judges may ask specific questions about a particular piece. As a courtesy to their fellow costumers, entrants should be considerate of the judges’ time constraints so that everyone has a chance to submit their works.
Do I need to have documentation for my costume? What format should it be in?
If you are recreating a costume from a media source such as a movie, anime, book, game etc., you are strongly encouraged to bring some sort of documentation. Not only does it prove your accuracy, but if the judge is not familiar with the source, it may be the only way to judge its veracity.
Documentation can be as simple as a photo or photos that show the costume from various angles, or if it is an interpretation from a book, then a photocopy of that source. It is also strongly encouraged to present the documentation in printed form, so that a judge can refer to it later, if needed. Keep in mind, the judges will most likely have only a few minutes to read through your documentation while making their decisions. You can get more specifics from the individual Masquerade Director as to what is acceptable.
Here are some examples that can help give you an idea, from complex to simple (all are valid):
Here is an example from a Virtual Costumers newsletter, about an entry from the CC 28 masquerade. http://www.siwcostumers.org/newslett…-blackfoot.pdf
Here is an example from CC31: http://sosteadyasshesews.blogspot.ca…1_archive.html
Primer about Documentation from Dramatic Threads: http://www.dramaticthreads.com/2013/…mentation.html
Example Documentation from CC22 entry: http://www.koshka-the-cat.com/green_gold.html
Example from CC30: http://twilatee.blogspot.ca/2012/10/…s-dress-1.html
Are there any cash prizes?
No. Your rewards are a rosette ribbon, a certificate and the applause and admiration of your peers. There will also be trophies for the Best in Show and Best in Division awards.
I’ve heard some guild chapters give out their own awards. What’s that about?
Often times, before the official masquerade awards are announced, some ICG Guild chapters will present their own award to an entry. These include, but are not limited to:
The “Spazzy”, given by the New York/New Jersey Costumers Guild for the best presentation of sick and twisted humor.
The “Slattern”, presented by the St. Louis Costumers Guild, for the person or persons they feel had the most fun on stage.
The “Cement Overshoes”, presented by the Chicagoland Costumers Guild, to the person they would like most to take a long walk off a short pier, so that they can take the costumer’s stuff.
The “Moosie”, presented by the Fibre Fantasy Artists of Canada, to the person they would like to steal away to become an honorary Canadian.
Basically, it’s a way to say, “Hey, we like what you did!”
Can I (or my family) just view the masquerades without attending the con?
Yes! We have spectator passes that only allow attendance to a masquerade. They’re $10 each.
(Thanks to Bruce & Nora Mai for the FAQ)