Rocky Horror Picture Show: “Don’t dream it, be it”

Tasha Hall, Campus Life Reporter

For one night every year, Whitman College takes part in a tradition that has reached the whole world. On this night, the beloved “Rocky Horror Picture Show” is played and widely enjoyed for its celebration of its audience and their identities.

The “Rocky Horror Picture Show” was originally a stage play that began its run in 1973. The story was then adapted into a movie in 1975, with one of the original play cast members, Richard O’Brien, making it into the film as the character Riff Raff.

While the content of the movie is unusual, with a score both unique and stylistic and an off-the-wall plot, it’s not quite the quality of the movie that made it so famous and timeless.

Senior Simon Ritter, who was part of the “whorus” ensemble in last year’s show, appreciates the history “Rocky” brings to life.

“From a cultural standpoint, ‘Rocky’ is really interesting as both a tribute to the tropes and plots of B-movies (and music) from previous decades as well as a commentary on the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and sexual awakening in general,” Ritter said. “It combines an aesthetic that was retro even then to the cultural movements of the time to a universal story about self-discovery… the themes of liberation remain relevant and the unique juxtaposition of past and future will always be special.”

In the world of college where homework, studying and nap times are the holy trinity and sexuality is discussed with an intensity that can only be matched by a conversation you have with your doctor, students crave to let loose — to have fun and not have to think so deeply.

This movie, with its wild characters, unimpeachable soundtrack and ability to interact with the audience, gives permission and validation to all students. It stands out by saying that no matter what sexuality and gender you may identify with, you are accepted, valid and sexy. Its emphasis on audience interaction and the community it validates and celebrates has cemented it into place and time globally, reaching out to people who don’t normally get the time to learn about themselves or others.

Junior Quinn Miller is co-directing this year’s show and playing Riff Raff.

“It’s just a very open community. I think it brings a lot of people together who normally wouldn’t be. They can learn and understand others,” Miller said. “It’s the safest space, especially I feel like on campus. I talk to some people about this in the ‘Rocky’ cast, but for queer people—especially gender queer people—[it’s significant] to feel included in things, and appreciated and seen and be able to have conversations around that that aren’t entirely super serious or intense.”

“Rocky” tells a story about sexual revolution and personal transformation, which can be reflected in the interaction between the cast and the audience. Part of the fun is that the cast can improvise.

“[The cast] are able to just let loose and be goofy or try something, and that’s super fun and not a chance you get very often,” Miller said. “The people you know are so open; they’re so great. People who want to have fun and entertain other people.”

For the audience, they get to dress up as comfortably or as sexy as they want. The movie and audience interaction gives a space for people to explore themselves and their identities and traverse the boundaries of their gender. It is a space where a cis man can play a cis woman and still be cheered on by their audience because it’s all in the name of fun. The cast isn’t made of look-alikes or those with talent built from an acting background of ten years.

Sophomore Kellen Flynn is the assistant director for this year’s performance and is also playing the character Columbia.

“A successful audition for ‘Rocky Horror’ is made up of three things: understanding of the character, confidence and having fun. Everyone in our cast nailed those three things on the head in their auditions and I can’t wait for our campus to see them in action,” Flynn said.

No further justification is needed for their roles, in contrast to what’s expected of a traditional theater space — just a passion for fun, letting loose from the fear of jokes around sexual and gender identity and a readiness to act crazy.

This year is “Rocky Horror Picture Show’s” 29th showing in Cordiner Hall on Oct. 29. Show up and have a good time!