By Nathan McIvor, Vice-President
Recently the annual shadow-cast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” premiered in Lincoln Auditorium, exploring themes of sexuality while advocating for a safe space built on consent. The 1975 film was projected on screen while student actors lip-synched and pantomimed scenes with a small army of backup dancers.
Keeping with tradition, Rocky “virgins” seeing the show for the first time that night had lipstick “V”s written on their faces, though their welcome did not end there. Director Nathaniel Red and Choreographer Charity LaFrance invited the “virgins” onstage to have their cherries popped, the cherries being red balloons placed between their legs.
Red noted that “the show is a bit of a culture shock for people who see it for the first time. I think it’s really important for people to see it.” He finds that the sense of shock can clear a path for healthy self-expression. “‘Rocky’ is a wonderful show that lets people be free. It’s great that UMF has this,” said Red, who had worked as a co-director and assistant director of “Rocky” in previous years.
Caitlin Hession, who plays the character Columbia in the show, echoed Red’s views of the show. “It’s freeing to see ‘Rocky.’ American culture is very constricted. Performing in this show, you can wear as much or as little as you want and no one will judge you for it,” Hession said.
Hession explained that “consent is really important in rehearsal and even in auditions” due to the show’s risqué nature, actors must also confirm whether or not they are comfortable dressing in certain outfits or acting in particular ways at every step of the process.
This year marked Hession’s first time playing main character, Columbia, which she enjoyed as “[She had] a chance to breathe as my character is not always on stage.” In the previous two shows, she was a dancer. She will graduate from UMF this spring.
Other actors are performing in “Rocky” for the first time this year. McKayla Mirois, a junior playing Janet, is “really excited, as the show has pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way. My part is unique. She’s one of the more toned-down characters. She’s often scared or sexually confused. All the other characters are really into it.”
Working behind the scenes, the show’s technical Assistant Director Vanessa Brown dealt with stage lighting and monitoring individual scenes. “‘Rocky’ is one of those shows that everyone comes to see and support their fellow students,” Brown said. “[It’s] excit[ing] to be working on the show because everything’s different each year.”
The play “The Rocky Horror Show” premiered in London in 1973. A playful blend of tropes from horror and science-fiction genres, the musical embraces gender fluidity and the playful blurring of sexual norms as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the primary antagonist, seduces both Janet and her fiance, Brad. A film adaptation retitled “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and a massive cult following followed.
Brown also commented on this production’s charitable cause. “All profits go to SAPARS [Sexual Assault Prevention & Assault Services] and we also do a raffle to raise more money.”
Thomas Young, Contributing Writer
The artwork for “Dorm Talk” a podcast by UMF freshmen Riley Cushing and Corbin Bouchard (Photo Courtesy of Thomas Young)
Dorm Talk, an untraditional and lighthearted podcast created by UMF freshman Corbin Bouchard and Riley Cushing consists of authentic discussion between the co-hosts on a wide variety of topics.
Creating the podcast was Cushing’s idea. “I always found [podcasts] really interesting,” Cushing said, “I always liked listening to them, so why not?”
Bouchard, on the other hand, was originally against the idea. “[Cushing] dragged me along,” Bouchard said with a chuckle about his co-host.
A podcast is essentially a free audio blog. Typically a podcast comes in a series, with each new episode published regularly. Podcasts allow for a strong connection to exist between the listener and the host due to the conversational atmosphere created by its audio form.
Dorm Talk had a rough start. It took three attempts to record the first episode due to technical difficulties. Neither student has any sort of podcast or audio editing background. “It’s a little challenging sometimes,” Bouchard admits.
Traditionally a podcast will focus on one theme, such as politics or video games. Dorm Talk does not follow this style, and instead the co-hosts talk about a new topic every episode in order to reach the interests of their many followers. “It’s very broad, [because] we have a broad audience,” said Cushing. Dorm Talk’s podcasts are anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
In their first podcast the pair talks about how they faced doubt from a lot of people when they mentioned they wanted to start a podcast. “Right off the bat, we didn’t even get a chance,” Bouchard said in episode one titled “Getting Started.” In order to get the word out about the podcast, the aspiring co-hosts “spammed everyone they knew,” Bouchard said, to which Cushing added, “and we actually got a lot of views.”
In episode two, while moving on from the difficulties faced during the creation of the podcast, the two co-hosts discuss the struggles of having, or not having, a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. In episode three, the duo moves away from the theme of romance (or lack thereof) and into an entirely new one about road rage. It’s in this episode that they have their first guests: Alison and Jorja Hooper.
Bouchard and Cushing never prepare a script before the recordings. In fact, for a recently recorded episode, Bouchard admitted to not even knowing the episode’s topic until fifteen minutes before recording. “When we come up with a topic, we agree to not talk about it until we are in the studio recording so that it’s more authentic,” Bouchard said in an online correspondence. “Dorm Talk is supposed to be raw, and sorta messy,” said Cushing.
The co-hosts said that the hardest part of making Dorm Talk is scheduling. With different course loads, it can be hard for the duo to find the time to create an episode. Since this is the biggest difficulty they have faced thus far, both Bouchard and Cushing highly recommend to anyone who might be interested to create their own.
Dorm Talk is currently posted on Youtube, Spotify and SoundCloud under the name “Dorm Talk.” Any student interested in buying stickers of their logo, or potentially t-shirts in the future, should follow and message the Instagram account “dormtalk.”
The UMF Health Club and health classes aimed to show students that managing stress and health is important for success (Photo by Gina Schultz)
By Allison Jarvis, Contributing Writer
The Health Club recently put together an event in the student center called “Chillin’ and Grillin’,” aiming to educate the students and promote ways to make healthy choices in four areas: Physical health, nutritional health, sexual health, and mental health. Each section had tables with different games, activities, quizzes, displays, and pamphlets for students to take.
The Health Club teamed up with students in two health classes to make this event possible. “The long term goal is to change the behavior of students by informing them how to better manage their stress, have a positive sexual health behavior, better nutritional diet, and become more physically active,” said Jamie Dillion, the vice president of the Health Club, via email interview. “It is to promote overall health.”
The games and events acted as an effective stress reliever for finals week. “It was not intended to be this late in the semester but it has worked out nicely as this is when students’ stress levels heighten,” said Colby Stevens, a senior who helped with the mental health portion of the event. “Through this program, we hope to teach students how to effectively manage their stress.”
Justin Davis wearing a “Captain Condom” costume (Photo by Gina Schultz)
Free hot dogs and hamburgers were served outside the Student Center and more healthy food was offered in the Landing. There were two games set up for students to show how much sugar is in popular snacks and compare prices between healthy and unhealthy choices.
“There are not a lot of healthy options in college for food and students tend to struggle with eating healthy,” said Norma Williams, a senior and community health education major.
The mental health portion of the event was also hosted in the Landing, including activities like yoga, coloring, and making stress balls. The students of the Health Club find it vitally important for everyone, college students especially, to manage their stress and maintain their mental health, which is often overlooked socially.
Katie Callahan, the health professor and Health Club faculty sponsor who helped oversee this event, believes very firmly in the importance of stress management. “College students have a lot to balance, and that is incredibly difficult,” said Callahan. “Many times, self-care is the first thing that can be pushed aside because it doesn’t come with a ‘deadline.’”
All of the activities offered were chosen so students could feel like they can afford it and have time for it. Pamphlets were handed out with stress management strategies that students can practice at home.
The students running the physical health section had a number of games to play including Twister and Just Dance. One table ran a “Diabetes: Fact vs Myth” Kahoot! trivia game for students to try. If a question was answered incorrectly, the student had to spin the wheel of exercise and do a quick session of jumping jacks, squats, or pushups. The health students always did the exercising with them so no one felt embarrassed.
The students running the sexual health section arranged a small display with a colorful banner hung above the table that read “Let’s talk about sex, baby!” The table was decked with presentation boards providing facts about how to have healthy sex and prevent unwanted pregnancies and diseases. On the table were several products such as birth control, condoms, and even a few sex toys. Students were tested to see if they knew how to put a diaper on a baby doll, or how to properly put on a condom by using a squirt gun made to look like a penis.
To make the subject of sex ed more lighthearted, health student Justin Davis volunteered to come dressed as a condom-themed superhero. He stood at the display, answered students’ questions, and walked around the room tossing packaged condoms at other students.
Dillion spoke about the reasoning behind the outfit. “[It was] definitely an excuse to put our peer in a condom costume,” said Dillion. “Maybe that was not the main reason, but it was definitely a deciding factor. The idea of the condom costume is to draw people in and show how sexual health can be safe and fun!”
Callahan and her students hope that their community not only had a good time but that they felt better prepared for finals week and can take some knowledge with them in the future. “It is in hopes that the students are able to better manage their stress so that they have a higher chance of success and end the year strong!” said Dillion. “Whatever follows them afterward, it would be beneficial for them to have these skills in times of need.” The Health Club hopes to host this event again next year with the same amount of success.