For three years in college, I played Brad Majors in an annual production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The production, mounted in a seedy bar on the edge of campus, featured full-scale musical numbers and plays host to a slew of University of Dayton-specific callbacks, Easter eggs, and references.
Contrary to what you might think, dancing in your underwear in the local dive offers plenty of life lessons.
Produced by an organization called Dayton’s Annual Transylvanian Convention (a direct reference to the film), these annual performances functioned as a fundraiser for the local AIDS Resource Center, while also offering college students the opportunity for freedom of self-expression.
Functioning without the support of the local university (turns out Catholic institutions have more than a few objections to sexual freedom, alien transvestites, and orgies), DATC has always embraced the same Do-It-Yourself attitude of 1980’s hardcore. Simply put, any goal for the production was placed in the hands of the cast, crew, and production team. Everyone was responsible for everything. To my mind, this philosophy was embodied perfectly in a line from the film: “Don’t dream it, be it…”
This aesthetic manifested itself in a guerrilla approach to production, rehearsal, marketing, and performance. In my three years with the show, rehearsals where held in people’s basements and living rooms. The director embarked on many a thrift store treasure hunt in search of costumes. The chorus members hung curtains and the cast collected props. The stage was built in the producer’s backyard, assembled atop the bar’s dance floor during tech rehearsal, and then struck every night before the midnight rush, only to be reassembled prior to the next day’s show.
Every minute detail was the product of collaboration and gut-instinct. Signing up as a member of DATC required fierce energy, immense m=commitment, and a willingness to do anything and everything to take the show to the next level.
Ultimately, DATC embodied (and continues to embody) the collision of theater, community engagement, and the freedom of creative self-expression, all filtered through a guerilla-style DIY work ethic. I guarantee, seeing this show will change you life. It did mine.
I look back fondly on the time I spent as a member of the cast and enjoy those moments every so often when I get to do the Time Warp again, but the ability to dance in high heels wasn’t my primary takeaway from DATC.
The biggest lesson was when setting goals for yourself, the most important step is transforming your intention into action.
Don’t dream it, be it…