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February 23, 2011 / portlandplaywatcher

February 17, 2011: Mt Hood Community College’s “Rocky Horror Show” by Richard O’Brien, directed by Jenn Hunter

Matt and I both work at Mt Hood Community College, so of course I have all sorts of insider knowledge about MHCC productions before I see them — like, I’ve not only seen the man behind the curtain, but I know who sewed the curtain and who hung it and who’s afraid the curtain might fall on somebody’s head — so I’m used to feeling anxious when I see our shows, but this time, watching the opening night performance of The Rocky Horror Show, I felt … uncomfortable. Not offended. Uncomfortable. Why? Because this production is really, really raunchy.

Now, listen, I knew what to expect. I’ve had tons of fun at more than one midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show so I was absolutely ready for fishnets and corsets and leather and underpants-as-costume, but this staging was much more suggestive and way more literal with the body-parts grabbing than I expected. So what? I’m not a prude and these students are all adults (even if some of them were high school kids a few months ago) so why did I feel so funny watching this show?

Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive in a “what will they think of us?!” kind of way …we’re having a hell of a time negotiating a faculty contract, and the community’s pretty divided about it, so maybe it’s not the greatest time to be shocking our neighbors. Know how you feel when you’re watching a movie with your mom and there’s a sex scene and you both cringe a little? I felt like that. Especially when a lady shouted out “this. is. GRESHAM!” during the second act. But I think there’s more to it than that.

Let me tell you a little story from my own college days. When I was a senior, I took a drawing class and one day we had a nude model. She was a student, too, and I remember thinking how brave/ crazy she was to do such a thing. A few days later, in the cafeteria with a bunch of my friends, I blurted out, “hey! That girl over there by the ice machine was the nude model in my drawing class.” And for the rest of that school year, none of my friends ever forgot that girl’s face, and if any of us would spot her on campus we’d all hurry to tell each other about the sighting of “The N.M.” I’m not proud of this.

But you can see where this is going, right? I’m sure that none of the actors did or wore anything they weren’t comfortable doing or wearing, but I was uncomfortable watching Rocky Horror because I couldn’t stop worrying about the student actors when they leave their skivvies in Transylvania and go back to Math class. What will happen when students who see this play cross paths on campus with the students who are in this play? Will they say anything? Probably not. But will they tell their friends about it? Probably. I’m still not sure why this bothers me, or even if it should. Is it residual guilt from my own immature reaction to seeing a fellow student’s body? Or are my teacher’s spidey-senses tingling with legitimate wariness?

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