“Awesome.” “Gay.” “Exhilarating.” “Liberating.” “Astounding…” These are the five words that some of Acid Flashbacks Theatre Company’s board members use to describe their experience participating in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which was performed last Friday night in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. I sat down with five of the six-member board a few weeks ago while they were in the middle of the rehearsal process for the show.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a tribute to horror movies of the 30s, originally flopped when it first premiered in theaters in 1975. In its earliest years, Rocky morphed into an event with a shadow cast, as more and more people felt drawn to the characters that they would come to screenings dressed up as their favorites. At the same time, the audience began to shout “call-lines” at specific points during the movie, and while some have endured, new call-lines are still developed every screening.
AF Theatre Company was originally created in response to the UMBC campus’s growing interest in the show. The company has been performing Rocky for only six years now, making it still a relatively new club. In previous years, the Student Events Board has partnered with AF to produce the show, but this year is the first year AF has had complete ownership, making it “really significant for the club’s presence on campus,” as AF president Hannah Wilcove, a junior gender and women’s studies major, says.
Wilcove, who plays Magenta, has performed in the shadow cast for three years now and refers to the show as a “form of activism . . . the very style of the shadow cast came from people reclaiming space that they were denied from the rest of the world,” she explains. “This movie is empowering for a lot of people.” The show has incredible cultural significance for those within the LGBTQIA community and has fashioned a space where people can feel comfortable in their own skin.
On the night of the show, a large number of people — both UMBC students and outside attendees — arrived in outrageous makeup or costumes, the cast being no exception. The emcees for the night, Becca Glatt and Randy Heng, who wore a unicorn costume and tutu, respectively, delivered call-lines throughout the movie and encouraged the use of the provided props — a kazoo and a copy of your favorite college newspaper, the Retriever — during certain scenes.
Glatt, a senior chemical engineering major, has been attending Rocky at UMBC for five years now and believes the production yields an environment “where being out there is not only accepted, but encouraged.” She calls it the “rock, pun intended” throughout a majority of the most formative years of her life. Heng, a senior biology and psychology double major, echoes this sentiment, saying that the show “helped [him] find [himself].”
Glatt has performed as Dr. Frank N. Furter for the past two years, and this year she passed the role onto Max Hromek, a sophomore theatre design and production major specializing in costumes. Hromek really likes the show for its commitment to acceptance, saying that “at first it’s just sort of fun to get into . . . but it is really important to have a place where you can be whatever you want — the most iconic version of yourself.”
AF Theatre Company’s production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show has certainly gained a following from people on and off campus and continues in a decades-old tradition of acceptance and originality. As Hromek most accurately sums up in a single phrase taken from their character’s lines: “Don’t dream it, be it.”