Making a Safe Space at the Rocky Horror Picture Show

By Anh Ta

Every Halloween weekend, the long line outside the Warch Campus Center cinema is a familiar sight. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) is a highly anticipated annual Halloween tradition that has been taking place around the world for a number of years. This year, Rocky Horror was back on campus for three showings—one on Friday, Oct. 30 at midnight, and two on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. and midnight respectively.

Rocky Horror is a truly interactive show; as the performers mime along with the cult movie playing in the background, the audience joins in by yelling out call lines, as well as singing and dancing along on cues.

As a first-timer at the show, I was wildly amused by the chaotic and incredibly enthusiastic audience and performers during the Friday night show. The performance’s intense energy and spontaneity would quickly carry you away into the satire of a musical horror flick.

The show, however, goes beyond being just light-hearted Halloween entertainment. For the cast, it is not only a chance for them to perform and to immerse themselves in a show they love, but also to be able to have an accepting and safe space for self-expression. The cast hopes to uphold the true spirit of the show: to embrace and celebrate everyone for who they are, and to abandon all biases and stereotypes.

“[You got to] check your heteronormativity at the door,” said Stage Manager and junior Sabrina Craven. Junior Brett Barnard, who played Eddie in the show, agreed and added, “It is all about having a safe environment to be yourself and to perform.”

As such, the show is open for everyone. “Everyone who auditions is in the show,” said Craven. “We do not cast based on any feature, gender or experience. We do not turn anyone away basically.”

The preparation for the production only started at the beginning of Fall Term, and over this short period of time, the cast has become more close-knit. According to Craven, it is a fun way to “meet people you would not meet otherwise.”

The show features a mix of veterans and first-time performers. Senior Emily Allen has been a part of the show since her freshman year, as a performer as well as a director. Some of the other members include her co-director, junior Rachel Mumme, as well as first-timers such as freshmen Jude Miller and Rufino Cacho.