In 2021, the TV adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s “Grishaverse” took Netflix by storm. “Shadow and Bone” became a hit, and fantasy fans all over the world fell in love with the rich characters. The fans of the books were delighted to see their favorite characters come to life. Empire Conventions then decided to dedicate a convention to this show. Due to the pandemic, the convention was postponed in January 2022, but on August 27th 2022 it finally began.
The line-up was amazing, with almost the complete staring cast of the show being present. Ben Barnes, Jessie Mei Li, Freddy Carter, Amita Suman, Kit Young, Jack Wolfe, Danielle Galligan, Calahan Skogman and Julian Kostov were there. Only Archie Renaux was missing, since he was filming. The masters of ceremonies Ico and Lise led through the weekend and did a fabulous job.
The convention started on time at 9:30 am, and a wonderful montage of the show got the audience in the mood. Then the opening ceremony began with a quick introduction of the actors. Since it was Jessie’s birthday and Julian and Ben had celebrated their birthdays a few days before, the actors were surprised with a cake and the complete hall signing “Happy Birthday”. They seemed genuinely moved by this!
The next two days were full of panels/Q&As, photo shoots, meetings and other activities. Lise and Ico hosted games between the panels, during which you could win other activities, such as photo shoots, meetings and autographs. This was a great way for people on a tight budget to get additional activities. The Q&A sessions were evenly distributed throughout the day, so there was always something going on.
Most actors did the panels with their on-screen partner, while Julian Kostov did a panel by himself. He was very charming, and his happy personality made more than up for him being by himself. At one point, he even grabbed a fan’s pink cowboy hat and rocked it until the end of the session. I suspect the girl will never let go of that hat!
Things got very emotional during Calahan Skogman’s and Danielle Galligan’s panel. Nina is a character that is particularly important for girls who are insecure about their body, as she has a more voluptuous figure. A young fan asked Danielle how she approached the role.
At first Danielle explained, that she had only become aware of the importance of the role after she was cast. Then she related to the audience that she was told during auditions that she was supposedly too big for some roles (which is nonsense, as Danielle is gorgeous!). Her portrayal is not meant to take away anything from the Nina, people created in their heads, but simply one version of Nina. In her words, Nina belongs to everyone who has formed an idea of her.
It was a very eloquent and emotional response. The fan broke into tears, and Danielle rushed over to comfort her, getting emotional as well. That was a crucial moment, as it showed what these characters mean to the fans and actors alike. It also illustrates how there was a true connection between the actors and the fans.
All actors were very down to earth during the meetings, which took place in separate rooms. They even offered people beverages before starting a relaxed chat.
A highlight were certainly the “special activities” such as the selfie-lounge and the pizzama party. These offered the guests a chance to chat in a relaxed atmosphere with the actors, who also seemed to enjoy these events.
Especially beer pong (played politically correct with water!) was popular, and we all got to enjoy a cheeky competition, when Ben Barnes and Danielle Galligan took on two fans. I personally hope for a rematch against Kit Young at Mikado next year.
The convention took place in the Novotel Bagnolet, which is a little on the outskirts of Paris. While the hotel is a nice 4 Star Hotel, the set-up was not ideal for this convention, as the space outside the hall is too small to handle the amount of people.
A few days before the convention, they published the program on social media. However, it would have been nice to have the program at least as a poster at the convention, since not everybody has social media.
Although some items seem oversold (in particular the autographs of Ben Barnes), everyone involved made a huge effort to ensure every fan got what they had bought. The staff managed to improvise and readjust the process for the second day. Although one has to say that cancelling the panel of Ben Barnes and Jessie-Mei Li on Saturday was a bad call. Since many people only had a ticket for Saturday, they were extremely disappointed. I would also like to point out that all actors made an effort to fulfill the demands, especially Ben Barnes. He put in extra time and was always charming and patient, although the weekend must have been very exhausting for him.
A highlight were Lise’s translations into French. She did her best not only to translate what the actors had said during the panel, but also to act it out the same way. The result was wonderfully entertaining, even for the cast, who were in awe of Lise’s talents.
Was the Shadow and Bone convention perfect? No, there is definitely room for improvement, as the organizers might have underestimated the demand. Despite this, I definitely recommend this event for next year, as it is rare chance to meet the cast of Shadow & Bone and to truly talk to them. The organizers were great at improvising and at fixing the problems. Hopefully they will adjust the small issues before next year’s convention. Every staff member was friendly and helpful.
Don’t forget to check this place when we will be back with some more Shadow and Bone content. In the meantime, you can read about other conventions coming up in Paris. Click here for a Vikings event and here for a The Last Kingdom event.
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Maria is our resident nerd and passionate about all things fantasy and science fiction. She is Spanish and grew up in Germany, which is why she is a native speaker of both languages. Becoming a fantasy writer was only logical to combine her skills and passions. In addition, she is working on her English degree and loves to play tennis and dance Salsa. She is currently writing her first novel and will mainly be covering Star Wars, Star Trek and Shadow & Bone.