Announcing TUPS’ annual showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Halloween tradition you don’t want to miss

Come one, come all and most definitely come in costume to the wacky, fun and inclusive Halloween tradition that is the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Trinity University Players (TUPS), Trinity University’s student-run theatre company, will put on the annual shadowcast showing of Rocky Horror at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 30 in the courtyard between the Ruth Taylor Theater building and the Dicke Art Building. The 1975 movie-musical will be projected onto a screen behind a full cast of students who will shadow the movie.

Traditionally, Rocky Horror was held in Mabee Dining Hall. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the show will be performed outside again this year. In 2020 the show did go on, but on the Jim Potter Intramural Field. This year, the location has been changed to accommodate rehearsals, necessary equipment and ongoing COVID-19 protocols.

Joelle MacDonald, a junior geoscience major playing the role of Magenta, said that the location of the show was moved to the courtyard on upper campus because there were problems last year on the intramural field setting up the stage and rehearsing. Rocky Horror has traditionally involved a wide variety of audience participation activities, and MacDonald said that TUPS is selectively picking games that are the safest for everyone while accommodating university health protocols.

“We’re definitely cutting back on some of the more physical contact games like the one where you get to kiss a cast member after winning a game. We’re not going to do that, which, for some people, it’s kind of sad, but also we have to take everyone’s health into consideration,” MacDonald said.

Kaylin Balyeat, a sophomore intending to major in anthropology and minor in theater, is co-director of the show along with Maria Zaharatos, senior political science and international studies double major and Spanish minor. Balyeat and Zaharatos are both in charge of planning rehearsals and making creative executive decisions in terms of the show, such as costumes, set design and blocking where everyone goes in the scenes.

Balyeat said that she is thankful that Rocky Horror is a dynamic tradition that can be manipulated to work with campus health protocols. Balyeat also said that the audience will receive a QR code that lists the show’s accompanying call-outs so that the audience can participate verbally.

“The call-outs are going to be a big part of the audience participation. We’re also looking into other traditions such as the Virgin Games for people who have never seen Rocky, like faking an orgasm contest…that one involves no touching, but it’s absolutely hilarious to watch,” Balyeat said.

Zaharatos said that she and Balyeat have jumped through a lot of different hoops with the university administration in order for the show to go on as safely as possible; the cast has weekly COVID tests and Zaharatos and Balyeat have had to clear the event with multiple university administrators. Zaharatos also mentioned that, as opposed to last year, this year the show will come back with a full cast.

Zaharatos said that although the campy, fun, wacky show has become a tradition for her and her friends, there are obviously some parts of the show that are a little outdated and problematic. Zaharatos said that she hopes to put on the show as safely and as transparently as possible so that it can be a good experience for people who have never seen it before.

“For a lot of people, it’s been about reclaiming those things, and it has been really empowering I think for a large part of our cast. And as co-directors that are a part of the LGBT+ community, it’s just something that we have to grapple with, the hard parts. But at the end of the day, we gain so much more from it that we are OK with doing those things,” Zaharatos said.

Zaharatos’s co-director Balyeat had a similar sentiment to share. Balyeat said that it was a very confusing experience for her the first time she saw the show, but, as time went on, she reflected more and more on it. Balyeat mentioned that the film is about the LGBT+ community, for the LGBT+ community and that it’s amazing, hilarious and empowering to watch.

“It promotes a lot of discussion, and we are having disclaimers at the beginning about the troubling themes — there are underlying themes of sexual assault and the use of outdated terms. We really want Trinity Pride there as a booth. We invited them and are hoping that they come. It’s a fun experience, and it’s really a cornerstone of queer experience, and you just have to be honest with yourself going into it … It’s not one of those shows that you can just go, ‘Oh, that was amazing. I love it for all the reasons.’ You actually have to think about these issues it presents,” Balyeat said.