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Is There a Light for the Future of UMF’s Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Is There a Light for the Future of UMF’s Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Portia Hardy Contributing Writer

   The beloved UMF “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shadowcast is in danger of disappearing due to a lack of Student Senate Spring Fling funding. Head director, senior Chloe Woodward, and her directing team are fighting to surpass financial obstacles for at least one more show this spring.

    “Rocky Horror might not happen next year,” said Woodard. “We have always received funding through the Spring Fling senate funding. [But] there is no Spring fling, that is confirmed.” 

   Choreographer Alexis Ramee, a junior, is concerned for the show’s usual charitable donations and new monetary stress placed on the cast. “. . .everything we raised as a group went straight to SAPARS (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services),” she said in an email interview. “Now that there is no Spring Fling any more, we, as a whole group, have to come together to raise money so we can get the costumes and props we need for the show.”

    Woodward said cast members have had to dip into their own personal funds for supplies. “I’ve already spent over 200 dollars on getting to start the show. The cut of funding might mean that there is no more Rocky.”

    Rocky Horror has been shown at UMF for about 10 years now as a shadowcast, where actors and dancers perform on stage with the movie playing on screen behind them. Shadowcast origins trace back to the film’s release in the 1970’s, as does its reputation as a cult-classic.

    “Rocky Horror is a movie that was made in the 70’s that didn’t do good at all when first released so they then moved it to the midnight showings,” Ramee said in her email, disclosing a brief history of the show. “By doing that only a select few people could even watch it but it was those people that got stuck on it. That’s how the ‘cult’ part all started,” she said. “It influences today’s viewers because a lot of us go in knowing what the call lines are or even what the purpose of the movie as a whole was. Even people who haven’t seen it or haven’t immersed themselves within this culture come out of the woodworks to see the UMF production. The cast members are the audience members as well.”

   Senior Darby Murnane has been involved with Rocky for three years now, playing lead roles like Janet and Frank-N-Furter. This year, on the directing team, her current title is “Helping Princess,” she said. 

    “[Rocky] is an erotizised paradody of ‘Frankenstein,’ in which our Dr. Frank-N-Furter, our Frankenstein copy, is building himself a lover instead of a monster, and the deep subplot is he’s going to build multiple lovers and sell them off for profit,” said Murnane.

    The show is unique for the audience participation in call-lines, developed by early audiences who saw midnight showings on a regular basis. The audience often yells, “Asshole!” and “Slut!” at characters Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple. 

    The plot follows Brad and Janet as they stumble across Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s mansion one dark night looking for a telephone to use, “and then everything goes wrong,” Murnane explains.

      The show’s rich history of traditions is the cast’s responsibility to uphold. “It carries a lot of weight, the call lines created a forced interaction and participation with the film,” Murnane said. “It’s not really a zone-out show, because there’s so much happening, you really have to be in on it. It’s primarily a cult of the LGBTQ community and the torch gets passed along from cast to cast to uphold the culture there.” 

    Ramee and Murnane hold out hope that someone will take over the show to keep it alive on campus next year. “I do hope a club will come and start doing Rocky. It will be very sad to see it end. But if this is the end, then you should be damn sure we are going out with a bang,” Ramee wrote. 

    The directors are prioritizing the survival of the family-oriented nature of the cast. “The Rocky cast really is a family for the people that are in it and I would like to see that continued for people who really need that in the way that I needed it and still do. I found Rocky when I was struggling and it saved my life in more ways than one,” Murnane said. 

    In Woodward’s time as assistant director and now leader, she’s seen what the Rocky family means. “There’s been so many people that come up to me after the show and say, ‘Wow, you guys really helped me through all these hard times,’” she said. “One of our biggest things is consent, it really helps people who have struggled with sexual assault.”

    “It’s a day where people can just be themselves without fear of judgment or cruelty,” said Ramee.

    Those interested in helping can donate to the cast or Woodward’s GoFundMe page.

Praxis: Friend or Foe?

Colin Harris Contributing Writer

   With books, homework, tests and quizzes piled high on already strenuously busy education majors, why not add more? The mandatory Praxis exam seems to be the answer.

   The four and a half hour long test, composed of a reading section, math section and two essay prompts, seems almost unbearable for some education majors. It measures students’ capability with these subjects and must be completed before they start their student teaching. 

    Without passing the Praxis, education students may not be able to take certain higher level courses. In the special education department, students must pass the exam in order to take classes above the 200 level, according to special education major Heather McDonald. 

    The Praxis requires a minimum score of 156 in reading, 162 in writing and 150 in math. If these scores aren’t met, the student must retake the exam again until the benchmarks have been reached. 

    Brooke Valentin, a second-year rehabilitation service major, has mixed feelings about Praxis. “I was an [early childhood special education] major but I just recently made the switch over to rehabilitation services. I realized that being in the classroom isn’t for me and I like more one on one with children,” Valentin said. 

      She struggled with the Praxis exam and it impeded her progression through the education program. “I took math and writing twice. I’ve never been good at math so the math test was really hard for me and caused lots of anxiety and worry.” Valentin said. “I felt like I was stuck.” She attributes part of her struggle to her issues with standardized testing and the “high stakes” of these exams.

     Valentin made an effort to improve her scores through serious study but was still challenged. “I bought a book designed for Praxis Core and met with a tutor in the Learning Commons,” she said. “It definitely helped, but it’s hard to teach all that math in just a month.”

    “I think the Praxis should be re-evaluated,” Valentin said. “It should be more of a test about the learning standards and developmentally appropriate practices. The test should focus on what an educator is actually going to be teaching in their classroom, rather than general overall knowledge.”

    Ripley Biggs, a third year early childhood special education major, has taken Praxis a total of four times as of now. “I took my first Praxis test at the beginning of sophomore year. I was able to pass two out of the three sections, but kept tripping up on the math section,” Biggs said. “I feel like I’m just repeating this test over and over again.”

    Biggs has spent copious amounts of money preparing for the exam. “I bought the big textbook to get ready [and] I bought the online study service that is around $60 a month to study for Praxis.” She’s found these resources to be helpful, but not enough to bring her scores up where they need to be. 

    On top of expenses related to study materials, the Praxis Core costs $90 for each subtest or $150 for the combined test, according to the Praxis website. The high cost becomes a serious burden on students in financially unstable positions who are already struggling under tuition, fees and living expenses. To have to repeat the test in order to continue with their education only heightens this stress. 

   Biggs agrees with Valentin’s sentiment on the importance of Praxis as well as critiques on the content it tests. “I believe that Praxis should be required for education majors, however, the test needs to be fixed,” Biggs said. “The test should be focused more on what I need in the field.” For instance, Biggs must answer exam questions on statistics and probability even though the highest math she would be teaching is counting due to her concentration.

Titcomb: Ski into a new hobby

Tyler Stinson Contributing Writer

    There are many ways people can enjoy the cold weather, by ice fishing, snowshoeing, or even staying inside bundled up next to the heater, but shooting down a mountain with a board or a pair of skis on your feet is a considerably more fun activity to many people in the Farmington area. Farmington has always had a huge skiing presence, and winter sports are beloved here, both in town, and at UMF.

    As students at UMF, there are a plethora of opportunities to get involved in this exciting winter sport, but even so, a majority of the UMF population has no idea about it. The first benefit students have is the local mountain, Titcomb. This mountain is incredibly close by, about five minutes out of town, and students only need to show their student ID to get a free pass for the season. With this pass, they can come and go as frequently as they want. Another great opportunity that students can take advantage of, is the lessons and rentals through the Mainely Outdoors building located near the Fitness and Recreation Center. This allows students to start skiing at Titcomb even if they’ve never invested the money to purchase their own pair of skis. 

    Those who are aware of these benefits for students love that the university is as involved as it is, however, with more exposure, and a better knowledge of the opportunities that are provided, the relationship between skiing and the Farmington community can only continue to grow. 

    Passionate and practiced instructors work 4 to 5 days a week teaching kids, college students and even adults how to ski over at Titcomb. These instructors have been skiing for years, and want to pass their love and knowledge of the sport down to students, so as to keep the popularity of it alive. One of these instructors states, “We’ve all spent the majority of our lives skiing. It’s something we are all extremely passionate about, and we wish more kids took advantage of the opportunities through the university.” 

    A UMF student, who had managed to figure out about the free season pass and the rentals through the school added, “I had always been interested in skiing, and I found out that [at UMF] it costs me nothing, or next to nothing. I also don’t have to attend a gym class, because it can be used as a PHE credit.” Another student talked about how they just wanted to learn to ski because their older siblings did it, and though they never got into it when they were younger, once they realized how easy to access it was in this area, they decided to give it a try. They found the relevant information through UMF’s Mainely Outdoors and took full advantage.

    If you also think you would love to be skiing down a mountain, or just love to be outside and try new things, Farmington is one of the best places you can be. Skiing is something that can be super fun for everyone, and if you are a UMF student looking to be involved in this wonderful winter activity, check out your options on campus for learning how and where you can ski for free. You won’t regret it.

Tacos and Taxes with The FinLit Program

Kathleen Perry Contributing Writer

    The UMF Financial Literacy Peer Education Program (FinLit) helps students gain control of their finances through exciting events, including the upcoming Tacos and Taxes. 

    FinLit Coordinator Sarah Hinman said that the event will provide the help of peer educators, all of whom are certified tax preparers, as well as the ability for students to get their taxes filed for free, with a feeling of empowerment and free food. The peer educators will also be working with Hinman and volunteers from United Way. 

    FinLit’s Tacos and Taxes drew in about 30 students last year. Some individuals only needed a small amount of assistance, but the people within the FinLit Program also helped those who had never filed before and were “desperate to take charge of their tax situation,” said Hinman. 

    Taxes and Tacos was designed to provide a more cost-efficient and attractive alternative to the average tax-filing process. FinLit and Hinman recommend coming to this program instead of using another tax preparation service, such as Turbotax or H&R Block because it is free, there is food, and it is empowering. “Money equals power, and being able to handle your finances independently also equals power,” said Hinman.

    The empowerment comes from students being able to have a hand in their tax preparation process, and allows them to be active within it. Being able to file one’s taxes and see the process creates a feeling of pride and confidence. “Tax events are very effective for the people that come,” said intern Caleb Grover.

   Part of what makes the FinLit tax filing experience unique is the peer educators who are there to make the process as easy as possible. “There’s somebody to talk to and we know what we’re talking about,” Grover said with confidence. “If an issue comes up with your taxes, we would be the one to reach out to someone for you–you aren’t on your own.”

    According to a previous article published in The Flyer, the FinLit program was formed last year following a donation of $901,000 from Janet Mills, governor of the state of Maine, to fund the program which was set to be put into place at all public universities in Maine by 2021.

    FinLit helps with more than just taxes throughout UMF. “We provide a safe space for students to come and receive guidance or help on their different financial issues,” Hinman said. “That can range from understanding your bill better, reviewing what you owe for student loans and how much the monthly payment will be.” 

    Tacos and Taxes will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the Education Center lobby from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students are encouraged to bring their laptop and their appetite. Students can also visit the FinLit office hours Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, contact them through email or direct message on Instagram. 

    For future updates and opportunities for financial advice follow FinLit on Instagram @umf_finlit or email caleb.grover@maine.edu or sarah.hinman@maine.edu.

Welcome to Our Bad Advice Column: Bite-Me-Beaver

Dear Bite,

    I was recently talking to this person and we seemed pretty interested in each other, but they pulled a 180 and now they’re dating my best friend. . . Do I wallow in self-pity or do I just drink the sorrows away as I wait for discount candy after Valentines?

-A Legal Non-alcoholic Alcoholic

Dear Non-alcoholic,

    Are you implying that you’re not already wallowing and drinking all time just by nature of being a college student? I don’t buy it. I think you should support your friends’ new romance and show how much you care by really investing yourself in the relationship. Keep a close eye on their dates, maybe even cut eye-holes in a newspaper (or Flyer) to watch, to make sure everything’s safe and on track. They should know you’re there for them, like right there. All the time. You might lose friends and gain a criminal record but it’s all in the name of love.

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Dear Bite,

    I’m vegetarian and despite the food being what it is here, I do okay. But last time I went to the Beaver Lodge they were out of veggie nuggets. I’m pretty sure this is where I die. Veggie nuggets are one of my main staples! If they keep running out, what am I going to do? Probably starve. Send help.

-I actually eat more than grass, thanks for asking

Dear Grass-Eater,

    (You know that’s what you really are at heart.) Have you ever heard of doomsday preppers? They’re hell-bent on preparing for whatever apocalypse scenario they think is coming first- like the Yellowstone volcano, nuclear war, climate disaster, etc. Follow their example and get your butt in gear for the end of all veggie nuggets, if it’s not already here. It’s high time to ditch that useless humanity and flimsy social codes and raid the kitchens and other people’s dinners to get those sweet nuggets before they disappear. Wear a gas mask for the aesthetic if you’re into that. 

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Dear Bite,

    So I’m a great skier and I just started dating this guy who also thinks he’s great. Problem is, he sucks. But he’s also really competitive. Should I show him how good I really am? He’s really cute though, so I don’t know. . .

-Getting Fresh With More Than Powder

Dear Getting Fresh,

    Break. Him. And his legs. He can’t have that overinflated male confidence if he can’t even get on the skis. And if you still want to keep him because he’s cute, he won’t be able to run away either.