The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a highly anticipated event every year at Goucher college. The raunchy show is part film, part theater, and makes for a unique experience that changes every year. In spite of its beloved place in Goucher’s campus culture, things are changing for this year’s showing. Gone is the show’s traditional closed off setting of Merrick Lecture hall; instead, say hello to one of the center points of campus: the Hyman Forum.
“This year Rocky will be performed in the Hyman Forum,” says Sophie Mezebish, assistant director. “Typically Rocky has always been performed in Merrick, which is a much smaller, more intimate space. The Ath will change things up dramatically as it’ll be vastly larger, accommodating for a larger audience as well as a larger cast and lots of audience interaction.”
“A lot of people have been confused by the move,” says Abigaile Bates, this year’s director of Rocky. “When I selected my cast, they were the first to know. Some of the actors had issues, given that the forum is a much more public space. Still, we are trying to take control of the space as best we can.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show started out as a musical in the early 70s. The show gained traction and was adapted to film in 1975. The film gained a cult following, and inspired a set of viewing traditions that persist into today. Since then, organizations across the US have presented their own versions of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, playing the film while having actors lip sync the lines and music on stage below. Productions are especially popular on college campuses, and Goucher is no exception. The show has become a staple of Goucher campus culture.
“The first time I saw Rocky was at Goucher my freshman year- I absolutely fell in love, and for the past two years, I’ve been a huge fan.” says Jasmine Hubara, a member of the ensemble this year.
This year’s Rocky Horror will be presented one night only, as the larger space of the Hyman forum ensures that just about anyone who wants to see it, can. But why the location change?
“I went to OSE to reserve the space, and apparently there is going to be an outside concert from a Baltimore group that is going to be using Kraushaur, but they will be storing their instruments in Merrick,” says Bates. “That was only for Saturday night, but the only reason we do two nights in Merrick is that the space is so small, and we want everyone to be able to see it. I thought of the Hyman Forum but thought ‘no, that’s too public,’ but the more and more I thought about it— It’s certainly a creative challenge, but maybe Merick was booked for a reason.”
There are quite a few challenges to overcome with the new space. The openness of the forum makes the lighting and sound design of the show completely different from previous years.
“In addition to the new space being larger and much different than anything we’ve worked with, it is also not set up to hold theatrical performances. This means that we will have to bring in lighting and scenic elements to make the forum feel like the typical Rocky performance space. This is difficult because it’s very expensive to buy props, sets, and lighting implements to fill up the new space,” says Mezebish.
“We have the different levels we can work with, and we can hold a lot of people. For that reason, it’s going to be very loud,” says Bates. “Luckily I’ve been meeting with a technician to try and get the movie as loud as possible to override that. As for the spotlights we usually have, we are going to try using high-tech flashlights to try and have the same effect.”
The open nature of the ath is another concern. “I think that the major challenge with the new space is that it’s hard to practice there if we want to keep everything secret until opening night. And, of course, we won’t have complete control of the space like we did in Merrick,” says Hubara.
Aside from the location change, there are other problems facing this year’s production. Some of the show’s traditionally used props have gone missing.
“We have always had a box filled with Rocky supplies that lies in one of the rooms of the theater,” says Bates “We have special shorts that Columbia always wears, some corsets for ensemble members who can’t afford their own… and I went to the room and could not find anything! The only things I could find were the coffin, wheelchair, and gurney, and we wouldn’t be using two of those! And no one had any idea where anything was. It was extremely frustrating. And so we’ve had to extend our budget not just for the normal props that we have to rebuy every year, but also to get the things we thought we would already have. But the show must go on, and as someone who loves a challenge, I’m still pretty excited.”
And the show is still going on, thanks to the love and effort that’s been put into it. “There’s something about the Goucher community of the show that makes it so different from all the other Rocky shows I’ve seen. We’re not afraid to be vulnerable and wild for the show because we have this supportive and uplifting culture of our Goucher community— I know I decided to audition for the show because I trusted the community I would be so vulnerable in front of,“ says Hubara.
“For so many, Rocky Horror symbolizes transgressing cultural norms and truly feeling free to be one’s self. In a liberal arts sphere such as Goucher, we value acceptance of others despite their differences or what social norms may say about these differences. Rocky reminds us to set our judgements aside and celebrate not only sexuality, but everything that makes us unique,” says Mezebish.
“The funny thing about this year is that we will never run the show full out until the night of. So the first time the audience sees the full show will also be the first time the cast and I also see the full show. It’s frightening, but exciting at the same time” says Bates.
The performance will be Saturday, October 28th at 8 pm.