Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show opened at The McCoy Theatre on October 31st, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More flying saucers--- and wild ideas (Give yourself over to absolute pleasure?)

At yesterday's meeting we talked about how Rocky Horror--all preconceived notions swept away-- is a fairy tale, and a fairly traditional one at that. We made specific reference (as I have previously on this blog) to commonalities it shares with The Wizard of Oz.
I don't want to overemphasize The Wizard in particular (though I do want subtle references), because it's a fairly modern children's story that, Like Rocky Horror, borrows from ancient cautionary storytelling.

More than anything else, Rocky Horror reminds me of the story of Hansel and Gretel. Brad and Janet have--quite literally--stumbled in to a house made of candy, cake and cookies (albeit from an erotic bakery).
Candy is, as we're all aware, quite dandy. But a house of candy? WOW! Too bad the witch who lives there has a book full of recipes for children who've grown too fat to run away.

What Rocky, Wizard of Oz, Hansel & Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and other working-class (no princesses!) fairy tales do best is to humanize the protagonists, and present a choice between imperfect worlds, and the nightmarish options that make Kansas look, at least a little better than it used to look.

We also talked about the Victorian origin of kitsch --- a truly middle/working class notion. The whole idea goes back to the age of railway booms, when long distance travel became more available to the less affluent. This is also the golden age of the souvenir. People brought back shells and sand to prove they'd been to the beach--and used their trinkets to decorate.

At its root, kitsch is something that's both familiar and exotic. It's proof
that we've been somewhere and returned with a plastic memory. Pop culture is nothing but a history of shared memories: a starlight mint, a drive-in movie, campfire stories about the one-armed killer stalking lovers' lane. It's a sentimental notion, in praise, and in derision.

Rocky's camp elements balance the sentimentality with a healthy dose of irreverence. Thank goodness. And that's why I think-- from a design perspective-- we can wallow in Pop deconstructions.

For example, David Jilg mentioned using blue gingham in Janet's costume, reflecting Dorothy. GREAT IDEA! But BLUE? What about black and white? With colorful underwear on underneath? And maybe some thing along those lines for Brad: say a classic 1950's dork but with some colorful Hang Ten manpanties underneath?

This is one low-tech way to move from black and white to color.

We also discussed the Transylvanians. I'd really like to see some uniforms and goggles here. Costumes inspired, perhaps by the now defunct Memphis band Automusik, Devo (this era), and the workers in Metropolis (pictured).

Whe something as unsexy as a jumpsuit? Hey, if they're yellow and rubber, who can say how unsexy? Either way, a jumpsuit can easily hide some fancy sparkly undies etc.

Transformation: you can't have a fairy tale without it. And Rocky has transformations to spare. We can capitalize on this, if we're clever.

Our set may be a starlite mint--- or a crashed flying saucer. Or both. We can move from black and white color. We can strip this show to its bones, and rebuild it: make it better than it was: better, stronger, faster...

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