GSA’s Rocky Horror screening cut short

Nicole Yeager, News Editor

After University President John Bravman’s Saturday night email was sent to the campus community, this year’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) movie screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975) was ended abruptly as students were ordered to return to their residences.

Since its premiere, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has become a campy cult classic that has transformed into a full, interactive experience for all fans and viewers alike. The film was directed by Jim Sharman and stars Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, among other directors. The film centers around sweethearts Brad and Janet as they discover the lively mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a gender non-conforming scientist, and lose their innocence while meeting a gang of wild characters. The film is also a musical that features extravagant costumes.

The Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) hosted an annual screening of the film, which was preceded by a costume contest. Many students dressed up as characters from the film — decked out in staple fishnet tights, corsets and heels — and were getting into the “Rocky Horror spirit” on the Malesardi Quadrangle. The screening of the film began around 7:30 p.m. and students gathered in small groups on blankets or chairs. Members of GSA who had planned the event were also hanging out paper bags of anecdotal props along with instructions on what to do with them, which allowed viewers to interact with significant parts of the film; the bags included rice, newspaper, flashlights, rubber gloves, noisemakers, confetti, toilet paper, a party hat, a bell and playing cards. Students could be seen singing and dancing along to the songs as well as interacting with their prompts and the audience script.

“I had a great time planning and attending this year’s showing of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’” Talia Housman ’21 said. “This movie means a lot to many people in the queer community and is always good lighthearted fun especially with the interactive prop bags that we were still able to do this year.”

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s” message of inclusivity is especially significant in many queer groups. “It’s a huge phenomenon to queer people because of its flamboyant expressions of gender non-conformity, and I think that energy can extend to everyone who feels constrained by gender roles or other social norms. I certainly use the showings as an excuse to dress flamboyantly and express myself in unseemly ways,” Madeleine Atwood ’21 said.

As with many other events this semester, GSA had to ensure that this year’s experience would conform to the regulations and guidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the film showing and event is usually held at the Campus Theatre, they took advantage of the outdoor space on Malesardi Quad by setting up a blow-up screen and projector. The event was cut short by the announcement of University President John Bravman’s urgent email about the 10 active positive cases on campus.

Nevertheless, it was still a memorable night for all those in the crowd who were singing and dancing along with Brad, Janet and Dr. Frank-N-Furter. “Although the event didn’t have the same fervor of past years and the crowd was much smaller, it was nice to have a reminder that there can still be pleasure in difficult times,” Atwood said. “It was terribly somber, walking home alone in fishnets. Still, it was wonderful to have the event! Hopefully next year there can be a more exuberant showing, but until then, I’ll still have my corsets and heels.”

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