Content warning: Mentions of sexual assault and violations of Title IX
It has been a Halloween tradition for the Open Circle Theatre Club to present the hit musical, Rocky Horror Picture Show. Many students get excited every October to get dolled up and engage with the charming cast as they sing and dance Rocky’s memorable songs. The tradition is not only a fun event that’s filled with music, but it’s also known as a safe space for students, especially LGBTQ+ students to express their sexual and gender identities. The original Rocky musical is known to show strong representation to people that are far from the heteronormative, so Goucher students believe that this student-led event gives them a chance to be proud of their bodies and identities.
However, there has been an issue that has made a major impact on the cast and crew of Rocky Horror. It’s been officially a year since administrative offices have abolished the banlist. The banlist was established to request a ban by cast and crew members to prohibit anyone with sexual harassment allegations to come to the Roocky shows. People can no longer request a ban for people who have records of sexual assault and violated Title IX on campus. The reason given to the directors for the banlist’s removal was a concern that some students have misused it by requesting to ban people from seeing the show for having petty arguments. However, according to Lele Hatcher ‘24, one of the student directors of the show, explains that from what she knows, there wasn’t any sighting of anyone misusing the banlist for that reason. According to the director of last year’s showing, this removal followed the production of the year prior when someone who was on the banlist went to OSE to complain that they were not allowed into the show, and that this list was “unfair”.When the banlist was confirmed for the first time, it led everyone in shock and worry because of the last minute change by the offices. Lele states with confidence that this year will be different and prepared.
Lele confirms, “This year everyone was very understanding, and knew we were trying everything in our power to create a safe space for our cast.”
The directors of Rocky Horror had to attend meetings with the school to discuss how to ensure that the cast and crew members are safe from any audience members who will make them feel uncomfortable. The meetings came to a conclusion that if any Rocky member has a Title IX case, then they would need to report the school about the specific person who has previous, open, or investigated accusations. The members of Rocky also made tactics of making each other feel comfortable and safe while performing.
Wiley ’27 answers that the directors have made it clear that safety is number one priority for everyone who is attending the show. One method of keeping the cast secure is making signals on stage if someone is uncomfortable or if someone is breaking any rules.
Wiley states another method. He says, “We also have a bouncer checking to make sure everyone who attends is a Goucher student, or has special permission.” Wiley is playing the role of Columbia. He and the rest of the cast agree that it’s a fair system.
There is currently no new policy for the audience that makes sure that people will stay safe before, during, and after the show. The directors hope that the audience will hold each other accountable and respect the whole Rocky crew. The bouncers will keep the audience in check as they witness all Goucher students being respectful, since Rocky Horror is known to be a safe space for all queer identities. It should be notified for all attendees that dressing up in sexy attire is not consent, and there will be consequences from the school for people who make people uncomfortable. There are some limitations of who can attend, for the protection of all cast and audience members, while allowing them to feel sexy, comfortable, and hyped for Halloween.
Despite the challenges from the removal of the banlist, the Rocky crew feel confident that the shows will be a success and will continue to satisfy Goucher’s Halloween tradition. From being excited to engage and interact with the audience, to dressing up and feeling confident with their bodies. The directors believe that the process of making the show is going great and the results will be a success.
“Everyone has put in so much work and time,” Lele exclaims, “I hope that audiences will have just as much fun as we do. These changes have not kept our spirits down, and we will continue to come up with new ways to keep our audience and cast safe.”
The cast and crew members have made a welcoming community for each other. They made sure that they all felt like they were a part of the crew. The time and work it takes for them to prepare for the show made people develop a sense of security and confidence.
Wiley expresses his love of the process of Rocky. “We’ve been working on the show for about a month and a half and have come so far. Personally, I’ve never done any dancing for a show before, but the choreography directors were super patient with me and made it very fun!”
The entire theatrical environment made itself a safe space by allowing the people to encourage each other. Everyone believes that the experience of Rocky is the highlight of October, showing that challenges will not make them break down.