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Camp Report of the 3rd German Xena Camp
"Fandom loves itself", Steven Sears said in a telephone interview with the German Xena Fanclub (DXF), when asked about his experiences with fandom - and the 3rd Xena Camp, taking place in Winterberg from Sept. 17-19, certainly proved him right!
During the weekend, about 130 Xena-Fans from Austria, Germany and Switzerland gathered together in what, most of the time, seemed like a large family meeting. This is not to say that everybody knew each other before coming to Winterberg (although many fans had met before during previous meetings), but rather that no one stayed alone for long in the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of the meeting.
Nevertheless it came as a bit of a surprise that the video room, where 4th season episodes were shown on a giant screen throughout the weekend, remained rather empty at times, while the fans preferred to either participate in other activities or simply spend time together, talking and discussing Xena-related and lots of completely Xena-unrelated topics.
If fandom loves itself, it also loves its own inventiveness and enthusiasm: most of the weekend's events (from fan fiction readings to theatre performances, lectures and workshops) were organized and run by the fans themselves.
On Friday night a midnight fan fiction reading - held in a little hut outside the main building - drew a big, big crowd. Visitors weren't exactly sure whether the heat building up in the little cabin had to be attributed to the big log fire burning in the middle of the room or to the effect of the stories being read. In any case, the phenomenon mysteriously repeated itself on Saturday night... Fan fiction is a popular facet of Xena fandom indeed!
Subtext isn't just predominant in many fan fiction stories, it can also be detected quite easily in most of the very entertaining fan-made Xena/Gabrielle music videos which were shown in heavy rotation long into the night (even a Janeway/Seven-video was sneaked in - subtext fans really stop at nothing...) - definitely a crowd pleaser as the cheers, the laughter and the long applause proved.
On Saturday morning the camp's participants had the opportunity to either watch or participate in a swordplay workshop, trying their hands at sword and staff, while those fans who preferred to begin the day in a more meditative fashion could get some detailed information about the history, meaning and technique of Mehndi painting (the India episodes had been shown the previous night). Afterwards many fans were seen sporting beautifully painted henna paintings on hands, arms and shoulders ...
In the afternoon, two groups teamed up for the ancient Greek sport of "Ultimate Chakramee" (a modern day version is now known as "Ultimate Frisbee"). According to the ancient rules, the two teams (called "The Bards" and "The Lawless") fight for the possession of a little round thing - this time not used for killing but for scoring points in the end zone of the rivaling team. Although the game proved hazardous for some participants' health, this did not deter those who survived from starting all over again the next day. Later that day, the Xena trivia quiz went ahead, including the obligatory hardcore nutball questions, but also a chariot race (without chariots) and a frenzied audience trying to pantomime things like "The greater Good", "Dance of the Veils", "Furies", "Dirty Half Dozen" or "Poseidon"...
After the quiz, everyone enjoyed a delicious cold buffet and then eagerly awaited one of the highlights of the weekend: a telephone interview with Steven Sears. Sears took a lot of time to patiently answer questions from the fans (the interview lasted well over an hour), almost missing a football game to explain his views on many different aspects of the show, as well as his new project "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle". (For excerpts from the interview see the end of this report).
After the interview, people came in droves to listen to a rock concert performed by Theo "DocCovington" Roglev and her companion Fredi "Sound Sleeper" Kohl. Theo's music was already pretty well known to the fans who had attended the 2nd Xena Camp, where Theo got the title "Bard of Bilstein". There is little doubt that she will attend the next meeting as the "Bard of Bilstein & Winterberg", complete with her own fanclub and newsletter - fandom not only loves, but also uncannily multiplies itself...
The concert didn't end the day's program (another fan fiction reading, a late night screening of A Day in the Life) and even if it had, most fans probably wouldn't have cared, since they followed an agenda of their own that didn't necessarily include sleeping. Only a handful of fans had to get up early on Sunday morning - the majority hadn't been to bed yet...
The morning's program included two slide presentations about New Zealand, one about the country in general, the other one by two fans, who had actually managed to get on the Xena set during their vacation in New Zealand and now shared their photos and adventures.
Afterwards everyone moved outside to attend the last highlight of the weekend: "The Birthday Party", a play written and rehearsed specifically for this weekend. Loth Lorien (a costume group, that makes costumes fashioned after the costumes from the show) and writers from the German fan fiction archive had collaborated on the play, which was presented by an exuberant cast including Xena, Gabrielle, Callisto, Ephiny and other Amazons, Hercules, Cyrene, Autolycus, Ares, Hercules, Joxer and a couple of Bacchae thrown in for good measure. When the play was written, the writers neither knew The Play's the Thing nor Takes One To Know One - "foresight" doesn't half describe the extent of their prophetic talents...
Another video screening concluded the official program (A Tale of Two Muses turned out to be one of the crowd's favorite episodes!). Endless goodbyes and promises to meet again next year concluded a fabulous and exciting weekend!
An interview with Steven L. Sears (excerpts)
Please bear in mind that this is only a summary and really doesn't do justice to Sears' detailed and very thoughtful answers. A longer version might be published on this site at a later date.
Images partly taken with permission from www.symbiont.de.
dxf-kontakt: email@example.com letztes update: 14.11.99