Science fiction double feature
November 18, 2010
As Daniel Boos ’13 prepares himself for his upcoming stage role, he must develop an affinity for the feather boa, master the art of walking in high heels and become well versed in pantomime; and yet, no amount of fishnet stockings can prepare him as well as his passion for the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Boos stars as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the College of William and Mary Science Fiction and Fantasy Club’s shadow-cast performance of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” this Friday at 8 p.m. in Trinkle Hall.
The club, known colloquially as Skiffy, performs the show as an annual tradition. However, the club was unable to obtain the rights to perform the show and had to cancel the performance last year. The members obtained the rights this October, and the cast members said they look forward to the revival of one of their favorite club traditions.
“The movie’s ridiculous,” Victoria Haynes ’13, co-director for the event, said. “Shadow-casting makes it even more out-there.”
Shadow casting requires the members to mimic the actors in the movie. With the movie playing in the background, the cast is left with little room for error. They assembled twice a week to rehearse with the movie.
“For normal acting, you get to make decisions. Here you’re trying to do exactly what they’re doing onscreen,” Boos said. “But it’s really the spirit of the event that makes it easier to perform.”
To prepare for the show, many of the cast members watched and re-watched the movie repeatedly. In order to deliver a pantomime performance, the members had to memorize the actors’ moves and lines.
“We all have learned to love and hate this movie a little this semester,” Haynes said. “Each one of us can probably quote it word for word.”
Shadow casting also allows the members to include callbacks, which are quick commentaries in response to a part of the film. For every performance of the show, callbacks are unique and offer another dimension to the movie.
“We’ve been able to bring in a lot of school-specific and local callbacks that really distinguish our production from others.” Suzy Phillips ’12, who plays Magenta and is co-director of the event, said.
With references to College President Taylor Reveley and even Monroe Hall, the callbacks shape the shadow casting into a performance that is unique to the College.
Throughout the world, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” possesses a large cult-like following, with fans who dress up as characters in the movie and attend screenings regularly. Many of the cast members have been fans of the show for years.
“I went to five shows just this past summer,” Emma Pinns ’13, who plays Janet Weiss, said. “I was Dr. Frank-N-Furter in a production at a woman’s college that I used to attend, so I usually go as him.”
For some of the cast members, however, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” experience is relatively foreign. Alex Thomson ’14, who plays Brad Majors, watched the movie for the first time this year. While Thomson remarked that he ended up loving the movie, he stressed that the callbacks that the cast incorporates make the performance stand out.
“The callbacks are unique, but not stuff you should say to your grandma,” Thomson said.
In addition to the shadow-cast performance, Skiffy will be offering a pre-show. For all the newcomers to the event, the Virgin ceremony is an induction into “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” fan-base. As an introduction to the whole experience of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the members of Skiffy said they want to give newcomers the chance to be immersed in the event. Any newcomers are asked to wear the letter “V” on their hand or forehead and participate in a song and dance number. The pre-show will also offer an auction of various props and costumes, including Rocky’s pants. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Club cast members also participate in the customary “Rocky Horror Picture Show” pledge as a way to encourage audience participation in the cultish experience.
With the pre-show and the shadow casting, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” event becomes more than just a movie screening. The event transforms into an interactive experience.