|The Rites of Spring '99
Slanted Fedora Convention
Buffalo, New York
April 10-11, 1999
by L. Susan Purser
To begin this report: the play on Saturday night, Love Letters, was incredible! I started crying when RenÚ's character, Alan Ladd, talked about the power of writing and sharing letters. and, just about the time I dried up there, the weeping really started. Powerful performances from both RenÚ and Nana!
When RenÚ came out to speak after the play, he said he'd leave the Star Trek talk until his and Nana's Q&A on Sunday and talk about theater instead. He read the author's comments about the play and went on to say that the passage in the play about the writing/sharing of letters (and letters being something you could choose to ignore or treasure after receiving them) reminded him of theater performances. Like letters, each performance is a unique experience for everyone involved and a connection is formed between audience members and the performers. He noted that, for him, having someone say that they saw such-and-such performance of his at a certain time and place could take him back and make him remember that part of his own personal history.
Someone asked what play (produced in recent years) he would have most liked to have performed in -- he said Art and recommended that we see it if/when we had an opportunity.
Another person asked if he had any upcoming theater projects that he could tell us about. He said there was nothing that he could talk about now, but it seemed apparent that he was thinking about going back to the theater and that he may have already begun looking for a project.
One of the other convention guests, Alice Kriege, stayed through RenÚ's talk and was even gracious enough to pose for pictures with various folks. I hung around until she'd taken care of everyone else, but I didn't want to subject her to another picture at that point - just wanted to tell her how impressed I was with her, basically. But, she may well think I'm nuts now, because I was still so emotionally wrought from the play that I almost lost it and started crying while trying to give her this compliment. I'm hoping that I didn't embarrass myself too badly and that she just thought I was cute, sweet, or whatever, as opposed to "drooling, unbalanced fanatic!" (She did seem kind of touched, rather than terrified, so maybe she understood.)
On Sunday morning, RenÚ attended brunch with members of his fan club. Among other topics, RenÚ discussed the Odo/Kira relationship. He said that one of his main concerns about the possibility of the two getting together, was that the writers wouldn't have/take the time to really deal with it the way it should be done. He then mentioned the now-infamous "closet scene" in "You Are Cordially Invited..." and strongly hinted that he felt it was a lousy way to deal with their reconciliation after the War Arc. He said that it wouldn't have bothered him as much if he felt that the writers actually knew what the two were discussing while in the closet, but that he was convinced that they didn't...
Someone pointed out how some of the "small" moments shown between the two after "His Way" were really quite effective in showing - or at least alluding to - the depth of their relationship. He said that that was good to know, since he never watched the episodes and only had the perspective of knowing what goes on in his own scenes. So, it was good to know that those small moments had real impact in the context of the whole episode/series. He then mentioned how he'd once come across "Heart of Stone" while channel-surfing in his trailer - waiting for them to set up a shot - and he'd watched it (or part of it, anyway). He didn't go into detail as to his reactions, but he had a kind of impressed look on his face when he mentioned it. He went on to say that it was easier for him to watch his own stuff once there's some "distance" between "then" and "now."
I've been to all of three sci-fi Cons, period - all within the past year - and the degree to which the actors at these things have been (or tried to be) open and accessible to their fans just floors me. I'm not sure I could be so generous, in their shoes. But RenÚ seems to go above and beyond the call of duty. During the brunch, he asked one person whether she'd spoken to an absent member recently; told another that he had passed her scholarly paper on the Odo/Kira relationship to Ira Behr so that he could read it; and he got involved in trying to get another fan's artwork used on the Con plaques... I mean, WOW!
Also, when RenÚ was talking about his wife and kids, his face just spoke volumes. (It's no wonder that he's so good working under masks - his own face is so expressive!) Seems like Armin's not the only one who knows he's a member of the "Lucky Club."
The Q&A on Sunday got moved back an hour (from 2:30 to 3:30), so I was forced to leave about halfway through it in order to make my flight (mumble*grumble*spit*curse), but what I did see of it was great. RenÚ and Nana were on stage at the same time, and it was fun to see them play off of one another as well as the audience.
Nana was wearing an oversized gray sweater over black leggings with short black boots. Rene was in mostly brown and tan - he had on this great chocolate-brown corduroy shirt!
There was a standing ovation when they came out - Nana was all smiles and Rene was doing his "oh, stop!" gesture...
RenÚ joked that, since Nana had gotten sleep the night before and was all perky (which she was), that he would just sit back and let her do most of the work. She said that she'd gotten about ten hours of sleep, despite the maid(s) knocking on her door about every hour throughout the morning. (Nana acted it out: Bam-Bam-Bam! 'You in there?' 'Uhh...yeah...')
RenÚ jumped in and quipped: "It's kind of like the opposite of prison - 'Get up and get out already!' "
Nana also joked that the hotel room, instead of having tourist info about Buffalo, they had a pamphlet about "See Miami!" and noted that she was glad to be back in that part of the country again (apparently she has family in/near the area).
They went pretty quickly on to taking questions. Someone asked what their plans were after DS9 ended. Nana said that she didn't have any immediate plans, except getting some rest - maybe coming back east for awhile to spend time with friends and family, and going out on auditions again. She seemed very nonchalant about it and commented that it's always like that: you finish one job, you have to go look for another.
I was struck by the way Nana just went into total mommy-mode with the kids in the audience. Not just with the one little boy who had trouble remembering his question (who, eventually, asked for a picture w ith her... she said that she'd be glad to, but that they should wait until she was signing autographs), but there was another little girl in the second or third row who got a little fussy at one point, and her attention just went right to this kid. It was amazing.
Someone asked them to "critique" each other as actors. Nana went first. Although she kept the comment general, she hinted that some of the actors have a tendency to "phone it in" from time to time. But she said that the really great thing about RenÚ is that, no matter what's going on in his life, no matter how late it is, or how tired he might be, that he's always - totally - there when doing scenes and that it was great to work with him, because that just brought out better performances from her.
RenÚ kind of went off on a tangent with his answer. He started out by joking that everything Nana had said about "...how wonderful I am...That's all true..." but he then started talking about the issue of "critiquing." He said that he'd always had a tendency to pick apart scenes and/or make suggestions about how to do it differently and that it had sometimes gotten him into trouble.
Nana broke in and said, "But you're a director..."
He said, "Yeah, but I've always done that..." (These little bits where they kind of fell into conversation with one another -- as opposed to responding to the audience -- were fascinating.)
RenÚ went on to note that his tendency to "kibbutz" about scenes usually didn't have anything to do with critiquing others' performances, but was just based on his feeling that he could suggest alternate ways of doing/looking at scenes (but that his colleagues, creative staff, etc. on various projects weren't always receptive to such input).
At one point (though I'm not sure which question prompted it), Nana talked about how close she and RenÚ had become over the years - how they knew all these little things about each other, and how great it has been to have had the opportunity to develop such a close friendship like that.
Someone asked about the possibilities of them doing cameos on Voyager (if/when the ship makes it back to the Alpha Quadrant). Neither seemed too thrilled with the idea - probably because they couldn't think of a plausible reason for such an inclusion. This is where RenÚ brought up the fact that Paramount owned all the footage they'd ever shot for them and that the company could do whatever they wanted to with it. (He made the "they could have us dancing with vacuum cleaners if they wanted" comment. This is also when he took one shot at answering the "changeling ability to enhance physical attributes" question: he cracked, "talk about 'enhancements...'")
Although it seemed for a minute that he was considering a flippant reply to the question (and Nana had a twinkle in her eye when she said: "I've gotta hear this!"), he took the high road and gave a very thoughtful answer about "Chimera's" attempt at answering how two such different species could be together in that way.
Someone asked RenÚ to compare his relationships to Robert Guillaume and Ethan Phillips from Benson to those with Armin and Avery. He noted that it was kind of an odd dynamic, in that, with Robert and Avery, he was a little more in awe of them both, and thus there was a little more distance in those relationships, whereas Armin and Ethan were both very close friends of his, with whom he kept in touch outside of work (He made some joke here about there being something about "short, bald men").
Someone asked Nana about the Intendant/Ezri kiss. She went into a fair amount of detail about this issue -- going back to "Crossover." She said, she saw the initial dynamic between the Intendant and Kira as being all about narcissism. As such, she wasn't thrilled about the implications of bisexuality in later episodes (with the scenes of her with female slaves, etc.), but that she just rationalized it by concluding that "Well, she doesn't care who's rubbing her back, so long as *someone* is..." (RenÚ jumped in here, saying that Nana was like that, too. She just smiled and admitted that, yes, she does like backrubs...) So she wasn't necessarily thrilled that bisexuality seemed to become a lifestyle thing for the Intendant and, as such, she wasn't much interested in the dynamic with Ezri beyond how to play the scenes in a way that made it interesting. Although she did say that she thought the Intendant fell a little in love with Ezri.
Someone asked which Dax they preferred. RenÚ's diplomatic response was to take an informal poll of the audience re: which we preferred. Jadzia won by a show of hands, but RenÚ was again diplomatic and said that that was understandable, given that Ezri had only had one season in which to endear herself to the audience, whereas Jadzia had six.
Nana kind of went into part of the reason why she was up so late filming the previous Friday night. She was filming a scene of Kira on Cardassia. Now, I can't remember whether she mentioned what, specifically, was setting her off (it may have just been the irony of Kira on Cardassia, given her history), but something in the context of the scene, or the dialogue or something about it just struck her as ridiculously funny, and she couldn't get through the scene without laughing. She said that she was literally rolling on the floor laughing. After several tries at this, she turned to the cameramen and crew: "still laughing and gasping for breath...And I said to them, 'You hate me, don't you?'" (for making them stay so late--it was about 1:30 a.m. at that point--to get it right). They basically all said 'yes.' And she tried to use that as motivation to straighten up, but when she went to do the scene again she lost it all over again, because the whole exchange with the crew seemed suddenly ridiculous, too.
They were asked about whether they would like to do DS9 movies. RenÚ replied that he wouldn't necessarily want to do a theatrical release--especially if it turned out to be something that could have been done just as well as an episode (I don't know what he was thinking, but ST: Insurrection sprung to mind for me). He said he thought it might be best if they did something along the lines of what B-5 did in terms of doing a series of "Movies of the Week" type television films. Nana was just kind of nodding throughout this, which I took to mean that she would be willing to be in any DS9 movies, if asked. (and maybe she agrees with Rene on the MoW thing)
RenÚ and Nana both talked about the work in progress on filming the final episode of Deep Space Nine. From what was said, I somehow doubt that the three characters left on the station will include both Odo and Quark. When RenÚ was talking about his last scene with Armin, I got the distinct impression that it was a farewell scene of some kind. (He said that Quark was trying to get Odo to admit that, if nothing else, he'd been a good adversary. And that Odo, of course, hadn't budged.) But, given the spoilers I've read about 'the new Nagus' it's probably equally plausible that Quark leaves DS9 as that Odo does... (though it would make for lovely symmetry if the three on station at the first were there at the last... <sniff>) (Now that the final episode has aired, I guess he meant Kira, Bashir, and Quark - not counting Jake and considering Ezri to be a "different" character)
RenÚ hinted that he and Nana had finished almost all their scenes for the final episode, though I think I remember him saying "Well...all but one...."
Nana mentioned that they were to start tearing down the Promenade set(s) on Monday (April 12) and joked about what parts of those sets they'd like to keep. Nana mentioned some neon fish-like sign that she wanted. I don't know if there's really any chance they could actually get their hands on such stuff - I thought Paraborg kept a pretty tight rein on most of that stuff. but they seemed kinda serious about it, so who knows?
Someone asked - in lieu of spoilers - if they could talk about things that didn't get wrapped up (or didn't get wrapped up to their satisfaction...)
The main thing I remember here is that RenÚ said the "Benny Russell" storyline never really got any closure (unless there was something still to come in the last re-writes), and he thought that was a shame, given how the writers had posed such an interesting question and then just dropped it. He seemed kind of upset - for our sakes - about being cheated out of resolution on that point.
I also remember Nana mentioning disappointment over how the writers dropped the ball on the Kira-Kirayoshi storyline, and not showing us any more of her problems adapting to what was basically the loss of a child.
But, the main thing I wanted to point out, was how upbeat they both seemed. I had worried that, given how close they are to wrapping up the show, that they might seem kind of sad/upset. Now, they may well be a little sad (Nana did seem a bit wistful when she was talking about how close a friendship she and Rene had developed over the years) - who wouldn't be? - but they didn't really show it at all. Nana really was "perky" - all smiles. Both she and RenÚ were quick to laugh (and joke), both at/with the audience and each other. And they were both pretty
matter-of-fact (even kind of optimistic) about moving on to new
That was good to see.
Photos by L. Susan Purser