Glad­i­a­tors to con­vene in Wal­dorf for Spar­taCon ‘16

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

Charles County res­i­dents had bet­ter grab a sword, hel­met and shield in prepa­ra­tion for this year’s Spar­taCon event at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Stadium in Wal­dorf. Thou­sands are ex­pected to at­tend the con­ven­tion this Satur­day in or­der to cel­e­brate their fa­vorite STARZ tele­vi­sion show, “Spar­ta­cus,” with many of the show’s celebri­ties and glad­i­a­tor ac­tiv­i­ties.

On Aug. 13-14, Spar­taCon II, or­ga­nized by The Red Ser­pents, will be held at 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Satur­day and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sun­day. The Red Ser­pents are fans of the show’s cul­ture and his­tory. The com­pany name is taken from the STARZ se­ries “Spar­ta­cus” that was in­spired by the his­tor­i­cal fig­ure of Spar­ta­cus, a Thra­cian glad­i­a­tor who led a ma­jor slave up­ris­ing against the Ro­man Repub­lic. Ac­cord­ing to STARZ, the first sea­son of the show alone had an av­er­age of 1.285 mil­lion view­ers.

Kelly Mont­gomery, pres­i­dent of The Red Ser­pents, said last year’s

con­ven­tion had al­most 3,000 at­ten­dees and they are ex­pect­ing at least dou­ble that amount this year. The Red Ser­pents have also in­cluded some ad­di­tional sur­prises at this year’s con­ven­tion in­clud­ing an ex­pan­sion of the Glad­i­a­tor Academy work­shop, which Spar­taCon is most known for of­fer­ing.

“Spar­taCon is the first and only U.S.-based fan con­ven­tion for fans of the tele­vi­sion se­ries ‘Spar­ta­cus’ as well as an­cient Rome in that era,” Mont­gomery said. “The Ro­man vs. Rebels theme this year is set to ex­cite all peo­ple. Peo­ple from as far as Ja­pan, Ar­gentina and New Zealand are fly­ing out to this event. If you are a fan of tele­vi­sion and films, such as ‘Spar­ta­cus,’ ‘300,’ ‘Vik­ings’ or ‘Xena,’ if you en­joy read­ing books about an­cient cul­tures such as Rome and Greece, or if you love live ac­tion role-play­ing [LARPing], then The Red Ser­pents is a com­mu­nity for you.”

Spar­taCon II reaches international “Spar­ta­cus” fans by host­ing one of the big­gest con­ven­tions ever, com­plete with cos-play­ers, artists, ex­hibits, celebrity guests, stunt­men and stunt co­or­di­na­tors, Cross­fit train­ers and Le­gion in­struc­tors. The con­ven­tion’s Ro­man vs. Rebel themed event in­cludes meet and greets with show celebri­ties, a Rebels & Ro­mans Af­ter-Party, Glad­i­a­tor Academy, ‘Earn The Mark’ Glad­i­a­tor Train­ing, Vul­canus Fire Artist Work­shop, and a Leather Work­ing Work­shop. Mont­gomery said she re­searched var­i­ous comic book con­ven­tions for over a year but wanted to make Spar­taCon dif­fer­ent from other con­ven­tions.

Mea­gan Sny­der, The Red Ser­pents mar­ket­ing out­reach co­or­di­na­tor, has been an as­set in help­ing to plan and or­ga­nize Spar­taCon con­ven­tion since its in­cep­tion. She said when The Red Ser­pents first ap­proached the show’s celebri­ties with the Spar­taCon idea, word spread like wild fire amongst the cast and they are ex­cited to par­tic­i­pate.

“This year’s con­ven­tion will be big­ger and bet­ter than last year’s,” Sny­der said. “We are go­ing to fo­cus more on the Ro­man side of it with more cast mem­bers from sea­son four. There will be archery, a fire artist work­shop where you can safely play with fire, and the Glad­i­a­tor Academy is even big­ger this year with the cast mem­bers ac­tu­ally lead­ing the work­shop since each of them have train­ing in spe­cific skill sets.”

Sny­der said the con­ven­tion’s live glad­i­a­tor bat­tle is what sep­a­rates this con­ven­tion from other fan con­ven­tions and the Spar­taCon staff aimed to bring to life what fans have seen on the show.

The Red Ser­pents de­cided to break up the Glad­i­a­tor Academy into three sep­a­rate parts. Each cir­cuit is led by “Spar­ta­cus” cast mem­bers, the Le­gion-in­spired Train­ing & Nu­tri­tion taught by Ty­rone Bell and Manu Ben­nett (Crixus), the Gla­dius and Dag­ger taught by Ellen Holl­man (Saxa) and Stephen Dunlevy (The Egyp­tian), along with the Ta­iaha Maori Staff taught by Ana­to­nio Te-Maioha (Barca). Both Sny­der and Mont­gomery said at­ten­dees an­tic­i­pate see­ing Manu Ben­nett (Crixus) and Liam McIntyre — who played Spar­ta­cus on the STARZ tele­vi­sion se­ries — at this year’s Spar­taCon.

Mont­gomery said she chose to have the con­ven­tion in her home­town, Wal­dorf, be­cause its grassy, green, nat­u­ral beauty and lay­out re­ally add to the Spar­taCon at­mos­phere.

“The South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs staff has been ab­so­lutely per­fect to work with,” Mont­gomery said. “They work with us to keep the line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open and we love the stadium. With their help we are bring­ing an­cient Rome to Wal­dorf, and now I don’t want to have a con­ven­tion any­where else.”

“It has been a plea­sure to work with Red Ser­pents in or­ga­niz­ing Spar­taCon this year,” said Ja­son Sproesser, South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs cor­po­rate sales man­ager. “There is so much buzz sur­round­ing the event, and last year’s event was so spe­cial. As an or­ga­ni­za­tion, we look for­ward to see­ing what new and in­ter­est­ing things will be added to Spar­taCon this year to take it to the next level. We could not be any more thrilled that they have cho­sen Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Stadium as the home of Spar­taCon.”

Sny­der said that Spar­taCon is also done in me­mory and ded­i­ca­tion of Andy Whit­field, who starred as the orig­i­nal Spar­ta­cus in the se­ries but un­for­tu­nately passed away af­ter film­ing the first sea­son. Spar­taCon con­tin­ues to show an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the show and its char­ac­ters as it be­comes more pop­u­lar around the world.

There is still time to pur­chase gen­eral ad­mis­sion tick­ets for Spar­taCon at $40 for ei­ther day at www.red­ser­pents. com/Buy-Tick­ets/Passes. For more in­for­ma­tion about Spar­taCon, go to www.red­ser­pents.com.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Spar­taCon glad­i­a­tor bat­tle from last year, Spar­ta­cus and Crixus ver­sus Theok­les, fea­tured “Spar­ta­cus” stars Manu Ben­nett, Mark Shapiro and Dy­lan Hintz at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Stadium.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Last year’s glad­i­a­tor bat­tle between Liam McIntyre, who plays Spar­ta­cus on the STARZ tele­vi­sion se­ries, and Steve Huff at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Stadium.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Cos­play­ers at last year’s Rebel themed Spar­taCon held at the Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Stadium, which will be fea­tured again at Spar­taCon II Ro­man vs. Rebels on Au­gust 13-14 at the same stadium.

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