Dream a little Dream with Neil.

Every once in awhile in the course of promoting Kill Shakespeare opportunities come by that see us starstruck. This past weekend was just such an occasion.

While Anthony started the weekend holding down the fort in Rochester Minnesota (and rubbing shoulders with comci superstars like Bill Willingham), I was in Orlando after being invited to the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

The IAFA is an academic conference that focuses on sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Attending the conference is like going to the very smartest corner of a ComicCon, except with a swim-up bar, and no furries.

The 34th edition of the conference had five papers on The Walking Dead, two on semi-obscure Swedish Vampire flick Let the Right One In and a paper entitled Do Linguists Dream of Electric Sheep? A Study of Constructed Languages in Speculative Fiction.

I even sat in on one paper that linked changing Renaissance Fairs to Stephen Colbert’s notion of “truthiness” and what it called a growing problem in American Politics of ignoring what is true for what we want to be true (as always, blame the trolls people).

So, for a geek like me this was heaven.

But I was talking about being starstruck, and while being around so many smart interesting people was dizzying enough what REALLY made me need the shades was the chance to rub elbows not once, but twice, with a certain gentleman named…

… Neil Gaiman.

Yeah, him.

As part of the deal the IAFA offered us they said they’d pay for a night in a hotel and make sure that whichever of us came down would sit on a panel with Neil and other scholars and talk about adaptations of Shakespeare.

(the fact I got to go to this one explains why Anthony is currently sunning himself in SoCal while I hang out in lovely, but much colder, Toronto.)

But if that wasn’t enough the amazingly talented Carrie Cole, who helped put together the Kill Shakespeare stageshow when it was in Arizona had a surprise in store for me.

You see every year at the IAFA they perform three, one-act plays that were chosen as winners of a competition. This year Carrie was directing them, and knowing what a ham-bone I am she asked if I would be willing to be in one of the plays. I agreed, but because the play would be a day after I was scheduled to go to FablesCon from Orlando I was ready to beg off.

“Oh, but don’t you want to know who will be acting opposite you in the play?” she asked.

“Wellll, I guess….”

“It might be someone named… Neil Gaiman.”

So, about 45 minutes later I had my plane changed and was staying an extra day in Orlando which is how I ended up on stage on Friday night looking at one of the greatest writers of our time as he pulled a gun on me.

The play was a taut two-hander called The Sum of Your Experience and was written Trace Crawford. It involves the strange case of a man who gets robbed and the mugger who steals all his stories.

Appropriately Neil got to be the tale thief while I was the sorry son-of-a-gun who loses everything — including the memories of his children.

While I didn’t get a great chance to hang-out with Neil afterwards (he had been on his feet for three straight days) I was able to chat a little bit and passed on a couple of Kill Shakespeare t-shirts to him and his wife Amanda. He was as gracious and polite as everyone said he would be and is one of the smartest people I’ve ever meant.

Below are a few pictures from Orlando (and there may be one or two of a certain comics genius).

Neil tells me if I put all my stories in the bag then nobody gets hurt - photo courtesy David Hartwell

Theatre expert Kevin Crawford and Neil Gaiman exchange thoughts on adapting Shakespeare in other mediums - photo courtesy Carrie J. Cole

The director and her two stars!

All the actors, and playwrights, gather with director Carrie J Cole

One of the academic presentations I sat it on was on the Kill Shakespeare stage reading.

Is this the end for the intrepid Ginger?

Myself, Carrie and IAFA President (and huge Bardolater) Jim Casey get our snarl on.

Something about our "Exit Pursued by a Bard" t-shirt seems to be making Neil uncomfortable.

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