Pictured L-R:  Tracy Farrell as the prince, Arisia Huff as Warrior Belle, Wendy Farrell as the Enchantress, Skip Farrell as the Beast. PHOTO: Middlebrooks Photography

Creativity Counts in Costume Competition

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Thursday February 19, 2015

“The Family Hive Mind” is what one South Burlington family calls the creative process that just landed them their third costuming presentation award in as many years at the Arisia Convention Masquerade Competition in Boston this past January. Their presentation, “Tale As Old As Time,” told a variation on Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” story in which Belle did not suffer Stockholm Syndrome. After such a flurry of successes, the group has moved from the Novice Category to Master Class costumers -- this year they took Best in the Master/Craftsman class. International Costumers Guild guidelines judge the workmanship of costumes and the presentation. The skit presented by the family proved to be an audience favorite.

The initial script was written by the family’s middle daughter, Becca Janney, who was inspired by sister Arisia Huff’s Halloween costume design of “Warrior Belle.” The idea came to life at the family dining room table where it quickly blossomed into a presentation. “This is where the hive mind concept really comes into play because one person has an idea and the development from that point happens so quickly that it’s often difficult to know who thought of what,” explained Skip Farrell, the patriarch of the group. Everyone played a hand in tightening the script and staging. Tracy Farrell (the other middle daughter) found and mixed the music for the performance. Skip assembled several of the prop pieces. “Wonder” Wendy Farrell, the matriarch of the group, designed and sewed the costumes. Props were a collaborative process between all the performers. Skip, Wendy, Tracy, and Arisia performed the final skit. (Becca was absent due to college commitments).

The family has deep roots in the local performing arts scene.
Arisia Huff is a seventh grader at FHTMS. She is a member of the middle school cheer team and she will be performing in the school’s production of Pippin this May.

Tracy Farrell, an SBHS graduate, earned a degree from Suffolk University in 2014. She works at Hickok & Boardman Realty and is a member of the South Burlington Community Chorus.

Becca Janney is an SBHS graduate studying theater at Baylor University in Waco, TX. She has an impressive resume of Flynn Theatre and school productions.

“Wonder” Wendy Farrell is a designer who directed the South End Arts Business Association STRUT fashion show in 2014. She is currently preparing to launch a “Radical Sewing Circle” for others who love to push their sewing skills beyond the ordinary. She has performed in several local theatrical productions. Farrell also sits on the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ board.

Skip Farrell is the owner of Farrell Vending and is currently a member of First Night Burlington’s board. Skip was the Founding Sponsor of First Night, as well as the Discover Jazz Festival and numerous other festivals and events over the past 30 years.

Arisia Con is a volunteer-run convention that covers all aspects of science fiction and fantasy literature and media. They strive to create a big tent environment that builds community among the varied groups and interests within fandom. Arisia, Inc is a 501(c3) non-profit educational organization.

The Arisia Masquerade, held annually in Boston, is a costume contest and display of creativity, which is sanctioned by the International Costumers Guild. Entrants may dress as anything interesting and fun so long as they can motor themselves across the stage and back. This may include a variety of cosplayers (fandom-inspired costumes), BEMs (Bug-Eyed Monsters!), Transformers, faeries, royals, dragons, and just plain silly people in costume. All entries are judged in one of three separate categories (Novice, Journeyman, and Craftsman/ Master) the skill division set up by the International Costumers’ Guild.