Post-Pandemic Convention Report 3: Ponycon Holland 2021. Part 1.

 A Dam Good Time with Dr. Foal Duke

Warning: this following post contains images of mayonnaise. 

Back in October, I was able to attend the first convention in the Netherlands since the end of Hearth's Warming Con. The convention itself was rather like its predecessor; quite simple and easygoing, without many over-complications. This made it flexible and was part of the reason they could reschedule from summer of 2020 to October of 2021. But how would the change in season and management affect the convention?

Well, it turns out that it wasn't affected too bad. Apart from the limitations one might expect from a first-time convention, such as new management being overcautious and laying on less events than they could get away with financially, the con was pretty plain sailing. Apart from the crowd's compulsion to shout 'big bong' every time somebody mentioned 'magic' or 'mayonnaise'. And the Dutch love mayonnaise. They keep jars in their pockets. It's the law. Read more after the jump.

You can read about the charity, Muziekids, here, and the con book is here.


Told you.

Day 1: Saturday Events (6th October 2021)

Practical Panels and Ponies with Pancakes

Facts and Figures

Location – Hotel Figi, Zeist, Netherlands

Dates – October 6 – 7, 2021

Attendance – Approx 500.

Charity - Muziekids

Amount Raised – 6740 Euros

Guests – Elley-Ray Hennessey (voice, Mistmane) and Cathy Weseluck (voice, Spike) by video call; Lizemijn Libgott (voice, Fluttershy, Dutch dub) in person, Imalou (designer, Sunny and Izzy), in person with AssassinMonkey (fan artist).

Musicians – Sam Quak, Prince Whateverer, Blackened Blue, BlackIceMusic, Twelve (“Tw3Lv3”)

11:30 – Opening Ceremony 
The opening ceremony was short and sweet. After a brief welcome from one of the hosts, Rutger, the curtain fell. As it rose, were treated to a brief sketch starring host Steffy Aurora in pyjamas as he learned the right thing to do in the event of sickness in this pandemic. However, he learned the hard way, as Annenas the vendor manager (starring as a nurse) was forced to take a very, very large needle to the ass
We all laughed, nervously, and checked our phones for notifications on our PCR test results. Which we had to take daily.

12:45 – Panel: Fallout Equestria History

Hosted by Fiaura the Tank Girl – a notable human fandom historian – the panel covered everything you wanted to know about Fallout Equestria, the controversial alternative history series known by the name Mare in the High Castle overseas. In particular, she divulged all manner of interesting titbits relating to her ongoing efforts to adapt it to an audio drama. The process was engaging and the dialogue was talented and authentic.

There was a lot of shop talk on the ups and downs of putting together a radio play, and in particular from Fiaura - a natural diplomat and disciplined individual - all the teamwork and diplomacy this requires and its pitfalls. Somebody asked about how FOE would evolve under G5, and to put it simply, FOE was deliberately left open to interpretation, and as there are references to FOE in G4, an FOE set in G5 could easily work. One reference, as per Jim Millier going on record saying so, is the pegasi closing the clouds in the final episode of G4.

Fiaura talking shop. "And this pony is dead, so is this one and this one..."

14:15 – Activity: Improvisation Session 
Hosted by Steffan, and one of the staples of many European conventions, we had a fun hour of improvised comedy, involving tons of audience participation. This was very fun and his skills as a dramatist and improv comic show through in his ability to lead you in and introduce you to the art.

15:00 – Event: Cosplay Competitions

This event was a little more subdued. There were only twelve contestants, and went on for only about half an hour. But there were, as always, some wonderful costumes on display, including a very, very dashing Sombra-themed suit of armor. There was a little bit of acting allowed, and a couple of people worked up the nerve to sing songs... Oh, and regular cosplayer Flutterguy was present.

 Rallying the troops.

15:30 – Panel: Voice Acting with Elley-Ray

This was a big draw, and got quite a lot of people in the panel room, which as you can see by the panel below, was large enough to host about 50 seated. This suffered a little bit as a result, and could've been put in the main stage, and allowed more people (acoustics permitting).

Two interesting takeaways from this engaging, and self-affirming panel that stood out to me – firstly, in order to voice act effectively, you need to treat yourself as being with the audience, which helps you remember that you are helping to tell a story to bring them and you joy, for which you need to play. That is, you need to take the time to be creative and play around with ideas, take them apart and combine them in weird ways. This is echoed by veteran voice actor and comic John Cleese - “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.”

Secondly – eununciation of vowels can be worked on by the use of corkwork, which is literally putting a cork in your mouth as you pronounce words full of vowels. And, to prevent getting into the habit of pronouncing forward too much, you counteract this by sticking a pencil in your mouth, pulling it wide like a frog, and training the smile muscles. Both, daily. That's right – voice acting is physical, bitchachos.

"All together now... EEEEEEEEE... AAAAAAAAAAA."



16:30 – Panel: Cathy Weseluck Video Call  
The next big VIP panel of the day, with Spike's voice actor by video call.

She was asked, as always, a lot of interesting and insightful questions. One question that stuck out in my mind – what did she think of Spike's personality? This hasn't been asked much, and gave us a look into her thought processes behind her particular style of acting for the character. She always thought it amusing that every other character referred to him as Brave and Glorious, especially the glorious part, given that his situation is quite opposite (I would guess that means having to put up with Twilight all the time).

Nevertheless she has always seen him as very genuine and hard to pull the wool over. Very much that what you see is what you get, and this allows him to possess a lot of honesty and courage.

And what would she say was her final takeaway from FIM? “How powerful and unifying it was, and still is. In my very long career, I have never experienced a show with this magnitude or kind of effect, and there are always new people seeing it and being affected in a positive way by the virtues it teaches. And it's done so much to bring people away from depression and get them outside, and talking. It's more than just a show.”

This reporter has to agree.

19:45 – The Concert

This wasn't bad for a first concert. I didn't get to attend much because I was off fraternizing with a few friends, racking up a few drinks on the expenses account.

However, it was a pretty fun event. There were some technical difficulties which meant that a couple of sets had to be reordered, and trimmed down for time, but it was a nice variety. The first act, MC Arch, Agatan and Sam Quak (no, that's not a typo) worked will together on stage with a combination of rap and electronic dance music. They played well off each other, operating on the same wavelength very well, and it was interesting to see them perform all together, which is a first if I recall correctly.

These served as a taster for what came next – Sam Quak striking out on his own, with an exciting series of electronic pieces that formed a surreal and vivid soundscape, judging by the noises of approval from the attendees. He alternated between high and low energy pieces pretty well, giving would be jumpers and dancers a moment of respite so they could keep going.

After this came Prince Whateverer's set. Now, you all know most of his songs, and he pulled out all the classics – Solidarity, of course, and Remember Me. Harmonizing well with Blackened Blue on lyrics, especially on this song, and with support from Deus (one of the organizers of Germany's Everfree Encore), the crowd were left feeling pretty electric after.

This continued on into the night, with Blackened Blue helping a segue from rock into metal, helping energize the crowd further. Then, to round off, came Black Ice Music with a nice mix of House music and mid-noughties Melbourne Bounce, and Tw3Lv3, with a medley of electronic hits.

I left tired, and happy that people were so buzzed, they never even said 'bing bong' once.


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