Arts & CultureCampus & City

Shadow theatre troupe bring Rocky Horror off the screen

We know and love the story: virtuous lovebirds Janet and Brad get lost in the woods, and stumble upon a large, spooky mansion in a break in the dense wood. They arrive, desperate to use a phone, yet the night has just begun; escapades of dancing, singing, death, sexual deviance, and costume embody the night with Dr. Frank-n-Furter and his eccentric gang of Transylvanians leading the festivities. Though The Rocky Horror Picture Show was initially panned upon it’s release, it gained notoriety as a cult film when it opened at the Waverly Theater in New York. Audiences began to participate in the film, dressing up as the characters and acting out scenes with props.

“It begins with something in someone’s mind. A few people like it, a few more people like it, and soon it turns into this phenomenon where people can just come and do what they want and be who they want,” explains The Lowdown Cheap Little Punks Shadow Cast, the in-house Shadow Cast for the Rocky Horror Picture Show Screenings at The Metro Cinema, originating from Edmonton. “We come from all walks of life and aren’t really theater people. It’s just about acceptance and diversity and having a good time. Like the film says, don’t dream it; be it.”

The Lowdown Cheap Little Punks wish to remain as an anonymous entity, due to the nature of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“We’re not theater people: we’ve got government people, we’ve got teachers, we’ve got bankers, we’ve got people coming from all walks of life and doing this crazy shit in the middle of the night” jokes the cast from LCLP, yet there passion for Rocky Horror and for the Shadow Cast is clearly evident.

A Shadow Cast is a troupe of actors that mime and block the scenes from the movie, directly below the screen; this is a regular tradition for The Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings. Eclectic costumes, boisterous dialogue, audience engagement and hilarious props are all heavily involved; LCLP adds an integral element to the screening. In the age of the Internet, Shadow Casting has become a worldwide phenomenon.

“There was never really that community connection, but now I posted something to Facebook and got a reply from a Shadow Cast in Japan,” explains an actor from LCLP.“I feel like the Shadow Cast helps to break down that natural wall that happens when you watch a movie; it makes the audience feel like they are part of the movie; it’s like dinner theatre without dinner” jokes one of the actors, while explaining the significance of Shadow Casting.

LCLP started from humble beginnings, as they reflect it shows how close the troupe is and how this has become a sought after tradition.

“We all got together at Jasper Cinema in 1995, a bunch of us just sat on a bench and said ‘this is what we like to do, it’s the 25th anniversary, what can we do about this.’ A lot of us were excited about it.” says the cast.

Shadow Casting is important to all of the members of LCLP. They believe it helps to celebrate the messages in the film.

“A lot of it just that message of the film, and getting up there to celebrate that message is really something else,” the cast warmly elaborates, “we also just have some really awesome friendships here. We clicked, we accepted each other for who and what we are, and it just kind of went from there.”

As time has progressed, the Cult Film culture of Rocky Horror has become increasingly accepted, and the LCLP are shocked at how the cult phenomena is still growing today.

“I’m surprised at how young our audience is, and how many virgins are in the audience; there’s a lot more curiosity for it. The fact that people are open to come and check it out is really neat,” discusses an actor from the troupe.

Although Rocky Horror is increasingly visible in the film community, that was not always the case. The film was seen as controversial, yet groundbreaking in many elements. Many of the actors agreed that the film paved the way for LGBTQ acceptance with the use of drag performances and culture, as well, the film includes a same-sex marriage ceremony—a first of it’s kind in the films 1975 incarnation.

The Lowdown Cheap Little Punks will be present at the sold-out screening of Rocky Horror this Halloween at Metro Cinemas. If you miss this screening, you can look forward to one during the May long weekend.

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