Let’s not do this one again

Aaron Carpenter
graduate student
from Paducah, Ky.

“Disappointment.” This was the word that came to mind when I attended this year’s production of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” As a longtime Murray State student and “Rocky Horror” enthusiast, I had become accustomed to the years-long tradition of cooperation between the Student Government Association and the University’s student theater organization, Sock ‘n’ Buskin.

This show, which I had the honorable pleasure of directing in 2009 and 2010, has been a Halloween-season mainstay of campus events, drawing a large and zesty crowd. While the film was shown this Monday, what it was lacking was the live element that makes it a truly worthwhile attraction.

There was no shadow cast for the audience to focus their interactions on. Also missing was the critical pre-show, which usually kicks off the evening with games for veterans and rookies alike, as well as the pledge of allegiance to Transsexual Transylvania. Without these, energy was lacking.

The main reason this year’s show had no live element was that the scheduling authorities required the show be on Halloween itself, a date that many of the would-be actors found untenable due to their rehearsal schedules.

The scheduling powers that be may say the date of the show could not be changed, since it was printed in the aforementioned agenda booklets.

I would argue that this just shows that the scheduling ability should lie in the hands of the performers, who after all are more than capable of creating publicity for all of their other staged events.

Nonetheless, SGA Adviser Jeanie Morgan expressed a willing hope that the two organizations would agree on a date for next year’s performance.

Freshmen who came to college having heard about the madness of the show were probably underwhelmed by this year’s showing. In past years, RHPSers packed into the Curris Center’s theater until the venue became too cramped, and they were thrust into the cavernous ballroom.

In the three years since the move, the crowds have swollen to fill almost every seat. Not so this year: only about half of the chairs seemed to be filled.

Since most fans weren’t aware of the lack of a live show beforehand, the reason here seems to be advertising. While there was indeed the usual impressive banner adorning the Curris Center wall, there are large segments of the student population that rarely find themselves in that building.

Perhaps the next most prominent bit of display was in the calendar of events included in the agenda booklets on sale in the bookstore.

While this too is thoughtful, it is nearing obsolescence in a world in which many students keep their schedules straight on a smartphone. Changing technology means changing habits.

We all know the pull of social media. In the past, hundreds of people have been informed of upcoming “Rocky” events thanks to a handily-made Facebook group.

But this year, unfortunately, there was no such effort. In the days and weeks before the show, I heard wildly conflicting rumors circulated about just when it was happening and what was to be shown.

With focused advertising and a marriage of performing and scheduling authority, Rocky Horror 2012 will no doubt have unconventional conventionists doing the Time Warp again.

As I am no longer active with Sock ‘n’ Buskin and I hope to finish grad school in May. I have no personal stake in next year’s show, but I hope that next year will be a return to the old days.