‘Intervention 7’: Uniting artists and fans in Rockville, MD

❉ Sci fi, fantasy and multimedia convention Intervention’s biggest year yet drew tons of guests from cult and genre TV… and synth wizard Thomas Dolby.

Thomas Dolby squared (Photo: Vincent Desiderioscioli
Thomas Dolby squared (Photo: Vincent Desiderioscioli)

When Intervention staff was told that Thomas Dolby would be making an appearance Friday night of the event, we were given a proviso by one of the con chairs.

‘Don’t go telling your friends it’s a concert,’ Oni Hartstein’s husband Harknell said. ‘It’s a multimedia presentation on his career. He’s not gonna get up there and sing “She Blinded Me with Science.”’

But when the big night came, that’s exactly what he did… followed after an hour-long Q&A by live-looping and a performance of ‘Hyperactive.’

That’s the magic of Intervention: sometimes even the people who run it don’t know what sort of little miracles are going to happen.

The name of the con indicates its dual purpose. ‘Internet + Convention = Intervention,’ the site header once read, boasting a variety of podcasters, bloggers, and webcomic artists. But it also serves to ‘intervene and inspire’ in a creative sense, offering workshops and master-class-level training in everything from filmmaking to world-building to running vendor tables. The entire staff, from the gophers all the way up to Oni and Harknell themselves, is made up of unpaid volunteers devoting thousands of hours to making the weekend fun and comfortable for the attendees and the guests.

This year, the convention – which caps at 1200 attendees due to both venue size and a desire to keep things personable and easygoing – took a big leap forward, inviting major industry guests. High on the list was Alex Kingston, stepping in at the last minute for the previously scheduled Arthur Darvill when work required him to cancel his appearance. She appeared for two panels, one of which (moderated by myself) was devoted to her overall career and which she used as an opportunity to talk about her love of Shakespeare and her desire to make it more accessible to younger readers.

Alex Kingston talking to a little Dalek girl (Photo: Katie Haines)

Also on the list was the aforementioned Dolby, now known in the United States as a professor at Johns Hopkins and a contributor to the TED Talks. He was attracted to Intervention by a mutual desire to do good in the community: where Intervention has a low ticket price ($65 for a full weekend) enabling creatives to access fun and educational panels in a welcoming environment, Dolby holds after-school classes in Baltimore, allowing underprivileged children to learn about and record music.

(Photo: Vincent Desiderioscioli)
Thomas Dolby with his book, ‘The Speed of Sound’ (Photo: Vincent Desiderioscioli)

The guest list didn’t end there. ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Land of the Lost’ writer David Gerrold brought a crate of Tribbles with him and talked about everything from his time on ‘Trek’ to the ever-changing and rebellious nature of science fiction. ‘Farscape’s Gigi Edgley and anime voice actor Todd Haberkorn teamed up on more than one occasion to talk about their roles as aliens in both major and indie productions. Veteran actor René Auberjonois was especially active, stopping in on children’s programming to help build cardboard box robots and bursting into an impromptu performance of ‘Les Poissons’ during his main panel. Voice actors Jon St. John (Duke Nukem) and Robert Axelrod (Lord Zedd, ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’) teamed up for a Good vs. Evil panel.

René Auberjonois visiting children’s programming (Photo: Kara Dennison)

Attendees had their moment in the spotlight, too, joining in on making and trading pins at the Button-Down Pinback Party, taking roles in an old-school radio sci-fi drama at Managlitch City Interactive, and getting time to have real chats with the guests.

Intervention continues to bring together artists of all levels to celebrate and share creativity… and fortunately for Maryland, they don’t seem ready to stop anytime soon!

❉ ‘Intervention’ is run by Onezumi Events, the team behind (Re)Generation Who.

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