Julia Xia ’19
Conbust — an annual event open to Smith students, Five College students and community members — transformed Seelye Hall last weekend into a bustling hub for heroes, villains, minions, artists and other fantastical characters. Conbust opened its doors on Friday evening, The festivities continued through Sunday afternoon.
Classrooms in Seelye Hall were converted into game rooms and artists’ markets. Participants could also attend a variety of guest hosted panels on topics that ranged from writing fanfiction to surviving a zombie apocalypse.
In Room 201, costumed Conbust attendees took diligent notes as panelists Jennifer Allis Provost, Holly Black and Sharyn November discussed femalerolesinpopularfiction.Audiencemembers asked questions, made jokes and ranted — the panelists responded in a likewise fashion.
There was a brief discussion of series ranging from “Twilight” and “50 Shades of Grey” to “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games.” Panelists also approached the topic of Mary Sue roles in fanfiction but did not say too much as the panel “Fanfiction 101: Attack of the Mary Sues” was taking place down the hall.
Later, in another room, Amy Tayloe’s presentation of “How to Be an Evil Overlord” was received with enthusiastic laughter from audience members, all budding Evil Overlords — the presentation even concluded with a quiz. Tayloe spoke of the fundamental steps required to become an evil overlord — this included gathering one’s minions and advisers, building lairs and successfully conquering a new place.
“Don’t build lairs where Mother Nature will punch you in the face,” said Tayloe. Active volcanoes, therefore, are a bad idea. “New England is good,” Tayloe clarified.
An audience member suggested including a civil engineer as one’s group of advisers. “Take notes!” said Tayloe.
Alyssa Blue ’18 attended the panel about Evil Overlords, as well as one about Interstellar Governments. “A lot of sci-fi mirrors our own history,” she said. Due to the difficulties of creating “new dynamics” between fictional countries, it is better to make “powerful commentary on our own human history” by drawing parallels between the fictional world and reality. “We also talked about aliens, in the context of alien governments,” Blue added.
Blue brought a Captain America shield she had made out of cardboard and duct tape with her to Conbust, while her friend had created a Bucky Bear for the occasion.
Demonstrations in sword-fighting and lightsaber combat happened on the Seelye Lawn. On Saturday night, Conbust also hosted “One Dance to Rule Them All” in the Campus Center Carroll Room. Attendees could enter the costume contest for a chance at winning a Herrell’s gift card, among other prizes.
Rebecca White ’19, attended and particularly enjoyed “Swordswomen through the Ages,” a demonstration on the fighting styles of famous women throughout European history. “The historical figures they chose had really fascinating stories,” White said. White was in a group of three cosplaying characters from the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale.”
“We’ll actually be donning the same costumes tomorrow night for the live show that ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ is doing at the Academy of Music downtown,” White said.
The Conbust weekend wrapped up on Sunday afternoon with milk and cookies.