Elsewhere’s connecting flight was out of order. Photo by Nicole Zelniker.
April Parker and Matthew Giddings should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to fly a plane.
Giddings, the executive director of Elsewhere and Parker, Elsewhere’s managing director, hosted the 12th annual Extravaganza at Greensboro’s quirky living museum and artist residency on Saturday, an event which included a street party with live music and a flight simulation/tour around the museum.
The two of them boarded their flight, which played on a projector screen on Elsewhere’s ground floor, and zoomed over Greensboro and into the third-floor window. Unfortunately for them, they got stuck in the ribbon room and unceremoniously thrown out of the plane. After a quick run-in with a toy shark, they flew out through the mirror room as someone in the back of the audience laughed and yelled, “This is hilarious.”
“The theme is all about taking flight,” explained Devin Miller, an event volunteer. “It’s all about departing and arriving.”
Throughout the evening, attendees were invited to move from their homes to the museum to the street party, which was airport-terminal themed, something that had taken the Elsewhere team a while to plan. At one point, the theme was “homecoming,” but Giddings thought that word might have too strong an association with NCA&T. Then, the idea became transportation. Finally, they landed on flights.
Miller was there as a flight attendant, one of the several volunteers who guided guests from points A to B. Miller, who has worked with Giddings before, said he immediately jumped on the chance to help when asked.
“When he called us and said, ‘Hey, we need volunteers for our exhibit,’ it was no problem,” said Miller, whose wife was also volunteering as a flight attendant. “We’ve been down here quite a few times, maybe a dozen times, and we like what they’re doing in the community. So when he called to ask for volunteers, I absolutely showed up.”
This is Giddings’ first extravaganza as executive director, and Parker’s first as managing director. So much of the event was new, including the extensive collaborations with the neighborhood. Every single restaurant on Elm Street contributed to the event, whether financially or with food, as did most of the businesses. Elsewhere ended up with over $10,000 in sponsorships.
“Departing and arriving is about marking this moment in Elsewhere’s history,” said Giddings. “The arrival of this moment, the departure from the way we’ve run extravaganzas in the past.”
Inside, Giddings began the tour to a group of a dozen or so passengers.
“This is our first flight ever, so I hope you feel safe on this trip,” he said, standing in front of a projector screen. “There may be a few bugs but because we do everything collaboratively, you’ll be called upon to make sure we get where we need to go safely.
“We’ll be flying into Elsewhere, Terminal E,” he continued. “You’ll have about five minutes to prepare for your next flight. You will have to take off your shoes at security, so prepare yourself for that, and you may want to say a prayer.” His last comment earned him laughter from the group.
After the flight simulation played on the screen, the group cleared out through the next room, where they were redirected to the bar behind the museum, where another volunteer posed as a comedic and rather artistic vampire.
The charismatic host showed the group his drawings which included a blank canvas, or “self-portrait.” At one point, he claimed that bats are better than cats.
“I can prove it alphabetically,” he said. He flipped the page of his sketchbook, where he had listed alphabetically the words Bat, Cat, Dat, Eat and Fat.
“You see?” he said. “At the very top of the alphabet, it goes, ‘Bat.’ However, ‘Cat dat eat, fat.’” This earned appreciative laughter from the small crowd.
The group dispersed afterwards into the street party. The bands played into the night, filling the chilly November air with music which mixed with the sound of the audience’s amused laughter. And even though this year’s event has just ended, the museum’s team is already planning next year’s extravaganza, which, for now, will be Nightmare on Elm Street themed.
“It’s on brand for Elsewhere to be kind of over the top,” said Giddings. “There’s a maxim that we kept repeating, that ‘More is more.’ So we would often just do the thing that was more complicated and collaborative and fun, even if we didn’t make as much money as we’d hoped. The investment in all these relationships is more than a set number of dollar.”
Elsewhere’s next event is a 24-hour Fort Night membership drive, with the event being free for members, $5 for children and $15 for adults.