A review by Lynn Ruth Miller (reprinted from forallevents.com)
Every spring for the past seven years, Fresno’s Rogue Performance Festival celebrates independent performance and art in a non-curated, non-juried group of productions that showcase everything from theatre, dance, music, puppetry, storytelling, magic and combination art. The concept for the festival actually started in Marcel Nunis’s backyard where he staged his “Weed-Whacker Theater” productions. Those shows planted the seeds that sprouted into the first Rogue Festival in 2002 and the event has grown every year, adding venues, performers and attendees. Now the Rogue is one of the biggest fringe festivals in the West.
The caliber of most of the performances spans tha scale from one to ten with shows at every level. Some may be ready for the Broadway Stage someday…but for now, they are testing the performance waters in a safe and friendly venue that they can easily afford. Amateur companies who believe they have more to offer than free performances at the high school gym are the majority of the fare at this festival. And that is because the Rogue is what all fringe festivals are meant to be: an opportunity for those who have talent to perform on stage before a paying audience. The shows are reviewed both by critics from The Fresno Bee and by the audience members. Each act has an opportunity to see if their production can withstand the scrutiny of a discriminating public. Even better, these eleven days filled with every variety of performance art offer a kaleidoscope entertainment from barely bearable to explosively grand. Each time you go to a show, you never know if there will be someone performing that you will hear and read about in Hollywood or on Broadway. After you have attended several performances, it becomes obvious that there is amazing talent on these stages that deserves a voice. The only way it can be spotlighted is if there are fringe festivals like this one to give them a chance they can afford and richly deserve.
I have performed in several festivals worldwide and in all but this one, the cost and the immense effort each performer must make to get an audience, promote his show and secure a venue is overwhelming. The resources one needs to attract viewers forces people to hire publicists, pay for media promotion and obligate themselves to venue costs completely disproportionate any possible profit. In the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for example, a performer would have to charge immense ticket prices commensurate with a highly touted Broadway production just to break even. This is a terrible loss for audiences eager to see something unique, produced with artistic integrity and dedication but doesn’t want to pay the outrageous tab that goes with a more elaborate world famous production. Gone the thrill of discovering new talent…gone the excitement of seeing a performance first that will soon be a world wide sensation…and even sadder, gone the satisfaction of being given a tiny gem of a show that probably will never go anywhere but into your heart.
The Rogue Festival is very different. John Jordan and his festival team cannot be praised enough for the immense effort they have put into creating this exciting performance arena, promoting it and keeping its cost so low that anyone who can afford gasoline to get to Fresno can manage to pay for the venue and all the extras Jordan and his dedicated staff of volunteers provide. They accept each show on a first come first serve basis and then join together to do everything possible to help the performers place , promote and enrich their performances. The Rogue brochure is a work of art, the pre-events to spark interest and the advice given to every artist makes this festival a win-win situation for everyone. Renee Newlove is in charge of performer relations and it is her job not only to welcome each act and help them acclimate themselves to their venue but to find accommodations for out-of-town performers , and make them feel welcome. She helps performers create interesting promotion ads on the festival my space page and assigns a Fresno resident “buddy” for each out-of-town performer. It simply cannot and does not get any better than that.
The audiences for this festival are enthusiastic and encouraging. The Fresno community comes out to see whatever is on hand and why not? The cost of each performance is, for the most part, less than that of a movie ticket and every cent of ticket revenue goes to the performer. That means that performers can actually combine the heady experience of a full house with the excitement of realizing a profit. Even better, anyone can see three shows in an evening and still have plenty of cash left over for a good dinner with drinks to follow. You won’t spend more than $10 (usually $4 -$7) for any one show.
Rogue performers range from the touring types, who make a living on the fringe festival circuit, to the local person who was just looking for a place to perform. While most performers are from the Fresno/Clovis area, this year’s Rogue featured people from Chicago, New York, Colorado, Oklahoma, Canada and England. Some are local people trying new things (such as local musician Blake Jones doing musical theater in “Sprawzilla vs. Mainstreet”). Some are national names, such as Grammy-winning drummer Steve Mitchell, who has played with Van Morrison and is back in Fresno this year playing with the Benjamin Boone Jazz Quartet.
I brought my storytelling show FAREWELL TO THE TOOTH FAIRY to this festival. The production is solo performance of vignettes that talk about how I found magic in my life. It has some laughs and even a few tears, but every story is a real one. This solo show was the hit of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years running.
In Fresno, I did not have to compete with 1600 shows for attention. There were only 80 different performances going on both weekends I was there, all within walking distance of one another. I am still in a state of delighted shock over the immense turnout and enthusiastic reception of this show with limited appeal, meant to be sweet and comforting family fare. As one reviewer said, “This is a primarily a nostalgic piece — there are references to Shirley Temple and Eleanor Roosevelt and how a dime could buy you a box of Crackerjacks in the old days. So, if nostalgia is a point of interest for you, then you’ll probably enjoy this stroll with Miller.”
And a lot of people not only took that stroll, they loved it.
Fred Anderson brought his show MAGIC AND MORE WITH FRISCO FRED to the Rogue Festival and he too loved the relaxed atmosphere, the ease of attracting audiences and the enthusiastic reception. Anderson is a seasoned performer who has been in the business for many years and this particular festival captured his heart, as it did mine.
For Rogue patrons, each show is a crap shoot. “The Rogue is all about experimentation,” says Donald Munroe of the Fresno Bee. “You grab a program, read the title and a short description of a show, toss down a few bucks if it sounds interesting, and hope for the best. Sometimes you’ll be thrilled, sometimes underwhelmed. It happens.”
Whether you are a performer or want to discover a great show, the trip to Fresno those first two weekends in March is well worth the cost of gas. If you are from the bay area there will be several performers such as Mia Paschal who will be familiar to you, and many, many innovative art forms and artists for you to discover. The Rogue Performance Festival is a cultural jewel that attracts thousands of people. It is always a bit off the wall and wildly unpredictable and that is what makes it so much fun. It is a California Treasure that is fast becoming a word-wide event filled with wonder and creativity that anyone can afford to enjoy.]]>
Visalian Heather Parish will direct “All’s Red That’s Riding Hood” as part of the Rogue Performance Festival. The play, by Sanger resident Terrance V. McArthur, was the winning entry in last year’s Woodward Shakespeare Festival playwright competition. “It’s a playful yet violent examination of the implications of a beloved fairy tale,” McArthur says.
The cast features Tom Nance (Lord Woodman Hood), James Sherrill III (DeWolfe), Randi Saul-Olson (grandmother Hood) and Alicia Buss (Red Riding Hood).
“It’s a modern take on the Grimms’ fairy tale, with an added touch of humor and modern cynicism,” Nance says. “It’s not Shakespeare but is very cleverly written.”
The 50-minute play about feuding families was written in blank verse, iambic pentameter. McArthur says he wrote many revisions to his five-act play. “By the time I reached Act Five, Act One had been reworked about ten times,” he says.
The plot has a not-so-little Red Riding Hood heading to grandmother’s house, despite being told of the dangers of the forest. She encounters an ex-nobleman named DeWolf.
The outcome is no fairy tale. “This grandmother is not a sweet old lady,” Saul-Olson says. “She is an alcoholic curmudgeon who lives alone in the woods. She is a very cranky, embittered, depressed thing … and she does love her wine.”
Grandmother Hood uses words like an ax when it comes to dealing with DeWolfe. “She has a very sharp tongue,” Saul-Olson says. “This play isn’t for the little ones, as there is an assassination or two. It’s a dark comedy.”
The Visalia resident delights in playing a villainess. She played the witch in the “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” at the Enchanted Playhouse Theatre production in 2005.
“Randi makes it fun,” Parish says. “She is very enthusiastic and makes the role her own. She has such a presence.”
The play will be performed in the Severance Building on Wishon Avenue in Fresno. The building was renovated last year and is now a California Arts Academy studio. “It’s a beautiful old 1920 ballroom,” Parish says. “Chairs will be set up, and there’s top-rate sound equipment. It’s a very comfortable space to work in. The audience will have a close-up view of the action around them.”
But don’t expect an elaborate set or costumes.
“The festival has a rotating schedule, and you have to be able to set up in 15 minutes,” Parish says. “It’s all about the performance. There are no bells or whistles. The actors are firing on all cylinders.”
Sherrill, who appeared in the Fourth Wall production of “The Lion in Winter” in 2006, welcomes the bare-bones setting. “I think it’s great,” he says. “It encourages the audience to use their imagination. The story pulls in the audience.”
Sherrill, Parish says, has the most complex role.
“He has to balance playing the bad guy with being a sympathetic character,” Parish says. “He has the thinnest line to walk. James does it quite well.”
Sherrill says the language of the play is less daunting than Shakespeare.
“You don’t have to stop and analyze every statement,” he says. “The turn of phrases are an older style than the way we speak today.”
Buss, who also appeared in “The Lion in Winter,” says the language of the play made it easier to remember lines. Most of all, Buss says, she enjoys Parish’s directing style. Parish has directed “Enchanted April,” “Turn of the Screw” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
“It’s completely different than what I’m used to,” Buss says. “She actually lets us play a lot more. She tells us to try a scene and see what develops. It allows you to be more creative.”
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or (559) 441-6482.
If you go
What: 2008 Rogue Performance Festival: “All’s Red That’s Riding Hood”
When: Through March 7: 7:30 p.m. today and March 7; 6:15 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday and March 8
Where: California Arts Academy/Severance Building, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., Fresno
Members of local rock band The Nancies have the most interesting music idea of this year’s Rogue: Creating and performing a score for an 88-year-old silent movie. Calling themselves The Rhoda Penmarks, the group studied the 1920 German expressionist film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and wrote new music to accompany it. The score will be performed live with the film.
Playing: At 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday and March 6-8 at Audie’s Olympic, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave. Cost: $7. Rating: PG (but venue is 21-and-up).
Barry Smith was a hit at last year’s Rogue Festival with his one-man show “Jesus in Montana.”
This year, Smith returns with “American Squatter,” a comedic solo multimedia show that looks at his transformation from suburbanite to squatter. It’s a touring show that’s been getting rave reviews at other fringe festivals.
Playing: At 5:30 p.m. today, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 10 p.m. March 7 and 7 p.m. March 8 at Starline, 831 E. Fern Ave. Cost: $7. Rating: R.
It Could Be Worse: My Life in the Central Valley
Anybody who grew up in or around Fresno can relate to the comedy that accompanies coming of age in the Valley.
Such is the basis for this hour-long play, created and presented by a trio of young women who have come to grips with the fact that “it could be worse,” thanks, in part, to heavy doses of sarcasm.
Playing: At 7 p.m. today, 4 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton St. Cost: $5. Rating: PG-13.
A new element of this year’s Rogue is a dedicated jazz stage at Tower Mosaic Church, as part of the Rogue’s Bring Your Own Venue program.
For each day of the festival, Rogue Jazz offers two performances from all-star local jazz groups. Today brings the David Aus Ensemble, Saturday is Fibonacci Cubed and Sunday features Protean Visions.
Starting Wednesday until the March 8 finale, The Guitar Titans, a trio of Rich Severson, Mike Dana and André Bush, will perform.
Playing: At 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today, 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 6:15 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and March 7, 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 8 at Tower Mosaic, 1040 N. Fulton St. Cost: $7. Rating: G.
Sprawlzilla vs. Main Street
A dad and daughter team up to battle a developer in this bit of musical theater that comes with a serious point about growth in small towns.
It’s headed by local musician (and Rogue vet) Blake Jones, with the help of his 15-year-old daughter Chelsea.
Playing: 1 p.m. Saturday, 3:45 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. March 7 at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton St. Cost: $4. Rating: PG.]]>
This Sherman Oaks-based improv/sketch comedy group is known for its unique brand of quick-paced, absurdist comedy. Sketches include “Bloodbath the Clown,” “The Tick,” “Blind Cops” and “Spitbaby.”
Playing: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 10 p.m. March 6, 8:30 p.m. March 7 and 4 p.m. March 8 at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton St. Cost: $5. Rating: PG-13.
Along the Path of Larks and Swallows
San Francisco solo performance artist Mia Paschal’s “This Lily Was (Fontana)” was one of the hits of last year’s Rogue Festival. Her new show, a poetic and darkly comic exploration of love, is inspired by the dreamscape collages of Joseph Cornell.
Playing: 7 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, 5:30 p.m. March 7, 2:30 and 8:30 p.m. March 8 at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton St. Cost: $7. Rating: R.
One nifty thing you can do at the Rogue is sample local arts groups you might not have experienced. Elemental Dance features faculty and students of California Arts Academy, the Severance Ballet Conservatory and special guests performing classical and contemporary dance in a preview of the company’s spring dance concert.
Playing: 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 5 p.m. March 8 at The Severance Building, 1401 N. Wishon Ave. Cost: $7. Rating: G.
Ryan Paulson, a New York performer, stars in a solo comedy about speaking in tongues and cheese. The List from Edinburgh, Scotland, describes the show as “a subtle and witty trip” and Time Out New York calls it a “categorically pitch-perfect one-man comedy.”
Playing: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, 7 p.m. March 7 and 4 p.m. March 8 at Starline, 831 E. Fern Ave. Cost: $7. Rating: PG.
Honest Sancha’s Used Mexican Lot/Las Dos Caras del Patron
Agustin Lira’s Teatro Inmigrante presents two biting political commentary and humor pieces that challenge perceptions and break stereotypes in a society where everyone is expendable, especially Mexicans. In concert will be Lira, Patricia Wells and Merlinda Espinosa as they perform new compositions and old favorites.
Playing: 7 p.m. today, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Arte Américas, 1630 N. Van Ness Ave. Cost: $6 members, $8 nonmembers. Rating: G.]]>
The Rogue Festival is an adventure.
One of envelope-pushing and oddly imagined entertainment.
This year’s Rogue started Thursday, with its Rogue Hop preview night whetting festival fanciers’ appetites. Today, the real thing starts and runs until March 8, with about 80 different shows on the schedule — an assortment of theater, music, dance, film, visual art, storytelling, comedy and every other crazy thing you’ll see at a fringe festival like the Rogue.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the Rogue, or an experienced Rogue traveler, we have it covered.
For you newbies, we’ve compiled a beginner’s guide to the Rogue Festival, full of all the knowledge you’ll need to get started.
For the advanced, peruse our picks on the page to the right for some of the shows on this year’s schedule that caught our eye.
What the heck is a fringe festival? It’s exactly what it sounds like — a festival that’s on the fringe of the mainstream. In the case of the Rogue, it’s made up of an assortment of alternative arts — theater, music, dance, film, etc. — none of which are of the highly commercial variety. The festival is nonjuried, which means there’s nobody saying which shows get admitted and which don’t. It’s like a real-life “Choose Your Own Adventure.”
Who are the performers? Rogue performers range from the touring types, who make a living on the fringe festival circuit, to the local person who was just looking for a place to perform. While most performers are from the Fresno/Clovis area, this year’s Rogue is bringing to town people from Chicago, New York, Colorado, Oklahoma, Canada and England. Some are local people trying new things (such as local musician Blake Jones doing musical theater in “Sprawzilla vs. Mainstreet”). Some are national names, such as Grammy-winning drummer Steve Mitchell, who has played with Van Morrison and is back in Fresno this year playing with the Benjamin Boone Jazz Quartet.
I get confused with all the different venues that are talked about on the Rogue’s Web site. How do I keep them straight? For the performance-based shows, there are basically three kinds of venues. Main-stage shows, which are the larger shows at the Rogue, are held at three venues: Dianna’s North, Dianna’s South and the Starline. Rogue Cafe shows, which are more intimate, are held at Ashtree Studios, Spectrum Gallery and the patio of Veni Vidi Vici. There’s also a category called BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue), which basically means that performers provide their own place to perform. BYOV performances can range from a show specially performed for the Rogue (the Benjamin Boone Jazz Quartet featuring Grammy-award winning drummer Steve Mitchell performing at the Severance theater, for example) to ones that you can think of as being performed more in conjunction with the Rogue (the Fresno Philharmonic’s Bugs Bunny musical spectacular at the Saroyan Theatre, say). There are also a couple of other Rogue venues for other types of art: You can find visual art at Veni Vidi Vici and Ashtree Studio; you can watch the film component of the festival at Javawava.
How do ticket prices work? The Rogue folks put a ceiling on the top ticket price that depends on the venue. It’s $7 for a main-stage show and $4 for a Rogue Cafe show. The artists can choose to charge less than that, however, and many do. (Think of it as a marketplace competition thing. Who says performers don’t know anything about economics?) At BYOV venues, there’s no restriction on prices. An important note: Performers at the official Rogue venues get 100% of proceeds at the door. The festival itself derives its income from entry fees, donations and advertising.
Do I have to buy tickets in advance? You can’t. Tickets go on sale half an hour before performances. But you might have to get there earlier than that to get in line if it’s a popular show. Better safe than sorry.
How do I plan? One of the trickiest parts of the Rogue is the planning, especially if there are a lot of shows you want to see. The most important thing is to get your hands on a Rogue Map, which you can grab at any Rogue venue. Don’t let the word “map” fool you. The Rogue Map is so much more — it’s like the Rogue bible. It has descriptions and times of all the shows that are playing, as well as addresses for venues and ticket prices. Once you have that, it’s a matter of picking and choosing, figuring which time is best to see which show.
One piece of Rogue wisdom: Being on time is a big deal. Shows start on time, and some don’t allow latecomers. Some only let people in within the first 15 minutes.
How do I know if a show is any good? You don’t. And that’s half the fun. The Rogue is all about experimentation. You grab a program, read the title and a short description of a show, toss down a few bucks if it sounds interesting, and hope for the best. Sometimes you’ll be thrilled, sometimes underwhelmed. It happens.
If you want to do some research beforehand, you can start with our picks sprinkled across these pages. Not guarantees, but good guesses on our part. If you want to wait out the first wave of shows, you can read reviews at roguefestival.com and at our blog, fresnobeehive.com.
Where do you park? There’s a nice big lot behind Sequoia Brewing Co. next to the Tower Theatre. But if that’s full, you might have to — brace yourself — park on the street. For those accustomed to strip-mall parking abundance, don’t worry: You can do it. A good street to pick is Linden Avenue, which runs right by Sequoia. You might have to walk a ways, but you’ll usually find a good space.
How did the festival start? Believe it or not, in a backyard. Rogue founder Marcel Nunis says the genesis of the Rogue was something called “Weed-Whacker Theatre,” which happened in his backyard. The first Rogue was in 2002, at Sanctuary theater in downtown Fresno. Since, it’s gotten bigger every year, growing in venues, performers and attendees. Now in its seventh year, the Rogue is one of the biggest fringe festivals in the West.
Is it kid-friendly? Somewhat. We’re not going to lie; many of the shows are aimed at a more mature demographic. Even the clown show (”Party of One”) is PG-13, but there are some G-rated shows to see, such as the storytelling show “Farewell to the Tooth Fairy” and “The Parlor Magic of Bryan Patrick.” Best thing to do is flip through the Rogue guide and look at the ratings.
What do I do between shows? Sometimes you might find yourself with an extra hour or two to kill between shows you want to see. Probably the most daring thing to do would be to take a risk on a show that you wouldn’t normally find yourself going to. Sometimes you find the best stuff at the Rogue by stumbling on it. If you’re looking for some R&R, however, stop by one of the places you can find Rogue types hanging out, such as Livingstones, the Starline Grill and Veni Vidi Vici. (These are the best places to pick up word of mouth on what shows are promising.) Or for some decompression time, try a hot beverage at Teazer or the Revue.
I’ve been to the Rogue before. Is there anything new I should know about this year? The word for 2008 is growth. The big difference in this year’s Rogue is the increase in BYOV venues. Tower Mosaic Church, 1040 N. Fulton St., for example, is on board hosting Rogue Jazz, a series of twice-daily jazz concerts throughout the festival. The renovated Severance Building, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., is hosting six different Rogue shows. Other BYOVs like Rogue Salon (2046 W. Bullard Ave.) and Superior ATM (5184 N. Blythe Ave.) mark notable departures out of the Rogue’s usual Tower District core.
Another change: This year, there are 12 straight days of Rogue. In years past, Monday or Tuesday would have been dead days, but this year, there are BYOV shows for people who need a dose of Rogue every day.
Once I see a show at the Rogue, how can I let others know what I think? Time for a shameless plug: Mosey on over to the Beehive’s special Rogue page at fresnobeehive.com/rogue/ to post your own reviews. You can also read news, gossip and reviews from Bee staffers. Word of mouth is crucial in a fringe festival, so take a few minutes and give your opinion.
The reporters can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or (559) 441-6479. Read their blogs at fresnobeehive.com.
IF YOU GO
What: Rogue Performance Festival
When: Today to March 8
Where: Various venues, mostly in the Tower District and downtown Fresno
Tickets: $3-$7 for most
Details: See Etc. calendar on Page 20 or roguefestival.com.
Reviews: As part of our coverage of this year’s Rogue Festival, The Bee is looking for readers to contribute show reviews. If you see a show you like (or don’t like), tell us about it by going to our Rogue Blog at fresnobeehive.com/rogue. While you’re there, you can read reviews from Bee staff members.]]>
Mar 7, 2008 at 2:31 PM EDT
Friday morning on KSEE Sunrise, we talked with Mia Paschal who’s performing this weekend at the Rogue Performance Festival. More
Mar 6, 2008 at 8:36 PM EDT
All the way from Virginia, J. Nick Dickert brings a solo performance piece exploring the nature and myth of masculinity to the Rogue Performance Festival. Thursday morning on KSEE Sunrise, we talked with him about his show. More
Mar 5, 2008 at 4:22 PM EDT
British acoustic guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Kien Lim is performing at Ashtree Studios during the Rogue Performance Festival . We talked with him live Wednesday morning on KSEE Sunrise. More
Mar 3, 2008 at 3:07 PM EDT
The 7th Annual Rogue Performance Festival is well underway in Fresno this week. One of the acts is Pentecostal Wisconsin, performed by Ryan Paulson from New York, via Wisconsin. More
FROM KFSN Channel 30
PODCAST: Rogue Festival
Each February and March, we in Fresno get another treat: the Rogue Festival, a 10-day run of performing arts that has become a cultural jewel for our city.
The Rogue attracts thousands of people to its hundreds of performances, mostly in venues around the Tower District. And it’s always a bit off- kilter and wildly unpredictable when it comes to content and quality.
This year’s festival gets going full-tilt today and Saturday and continues until March 9.
If you’ve never been to a Rogue event, shouldn’t this leap year give you another reason to finally take that leap?
One of the ideas that drives the Rogue is that because the shows are affordable (usually $4 to $7), you can take a chance on something and not be out too much money if you choose a dud, which can happen.
This year, it wouldn’t even be like you’re wasting your time, either. Leap year gives us a free day.
You can go see “Semi-Pro” another time. Will Ferrell will still be there. Or just watch “Talladega Nights” again. Same thing, pretty much.
With the Rogue, redundancy is never a problem.
Lately, around town, a lot of those “there’s-nothing-to-do-in-Fresno” people have changed their tune to “it’s all the same; there’s no variety.”
Again, not the case with the Rogue.
Whatever your flavor, there are at least a couple of shows out of the more than 80 on the schedule that should be of interest. The options include original, local theater productions, both serious and funny. There’s plenty of live music, from local performers and out-of-town folks, mostly doing coffee shop-type songwriter sets.
There are one-person shows with names that sell themselves, such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Porn Factory,” “Pentecostal Wisconsin” and “I Was a Sexually Confused Teenager.”
There’s belly dancing (three different troupes this year), improv comedy, film, poetry, visual arts and magic.
Then there are the Rogue oddities: A PG-13 clown show called “Party of One,” the spontaneous “24-Hour Theater Experiment,” where a show is entirely created in 24 hours, and “The Adventures of Ace Steelheart,” a live radio drama.
Above all, the Rogue creates in its Tower District base a lively sense of community, where creative people share their talents, showgoers hop around to see the shows and, for 10 days out of the year, Fresno is gleaming with cultural vibrancy.
So here’s a challenge: Use your free day to go see a Rogue show. Just one.
Read our Rogue picks in this issue of 7, go to roguefestival.com, or just wander into the Tower, pick one of the venues, and take a chance.
Starline, the two Dianna’s Studios of Dance, Ashtree Studios, Veni Vidi Vici, Spectrum Gallery — all have shows tonight.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself back again later in the festival.
So go ahead, take that Rogue leap. What have you got to lose?
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6479. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com/mike.]]>
Last year, the bouncer outside Livingstone’s Restaurant asked pedicab driver Jeff Macdonald whether he would be working during the Rogue Festival.
Back then, Macdonald didn’t really know what the Rogue was. So he didn’t respond to the bouncer with much enthusiasm.
This year, Macdonald knows the Rogue. And the Rogue knows him — as well as some of his fellow Shuttlebugz.
During the first weekend of the festival, the pedicabs carried Rogue fans between venues. They’ve been a supporting character in a video created by Rogue founder Marcel Nunis, who spent one night touring the various Rogue venues via pedicab.
The next night, if you were paying attention to such things, you would have seen an actress arrive at her own play in a pedicab minutes before the doors opened.
Once Macdonald became familiar with the Rogue — a 10-day performing arts festival with 80-plus shows at more than a dozen venues — he also figured it was a good place for pedicabs.
“I convey people from place to place,” he says. “I can do that.”
Shuttlebugz seems to fit with the Rogue’s go-ahead-and-give-it-a-try sense of adventure.
“It’s a venue that’s perfectly suited for pedicabs because of the various locations,” says Shuttlebugz owner Joe Burke, who started the company in July 2006. “It’s a way to save some gas. It can help a little with air quality. And it’s a fun way to travel.”
Shuttlebugz often can be seen downtown and in the Tower, at Grizzlies games, Fresno State football games and such private functions as weddings.
“Any type of venue where there are a lot of people who want to move about,” Burke says.
That describes the Rogue. Sure, one of the nice things about the festival is that most of the venues are within walking distance of one another. Ashtree Studios is considered the Rogue hub. You can walk from there to the Severance Building (one of the more popular venues this year) in about 10 minutes. Or you can hop in a pedicab, save time and have some fun.
“A lot of people have said, ‘Oh, I’ll just hop around to the different venues,’ ” said Mike Lemieux, general manager of Starline, while two pedicabs waited outside his club.
Drivers work on tips, so there’s no set price, but $5 is nice for a venue-to-venue jaunt. Or you can take a whirl around the Tower and drop a $10 bill.
“Until you’ve actually taken a pedicab ride, they’re fun to look at and point at,” Macdonald says. “But once you’ve taken the ride, it turns out to be a lot of fun.”
Part of the fun is Macdonald’s rapport with the neighborhood and his stories about various hangouts.
By Sunday — only three days into the festival — his presence was missed. When Macdonald didn’t show up in his pedicab, some Rogue regulars where wondering what happened.
No need to worry in these final days of the Rogue.
“I’m looking to have really burned- out by legs by the end of this weekend,” he says.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or (559) 441-6479. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com/mike.]]>
Another weekend of the Rogue Festival means another weekend of interesting music options. In the festival’s last two days, here are a few shows that music lovers might be interested in:
Kuppajoe is having an event tonight that it’s calling Nickfest. The Nick in question is Nick Kennedy, Kuppajoe’s ex-soundman and an ex-local musician now studying at the Nexus School of Music in Britain.The show will help raise money for Kennedy’s schooling and will feature Albatross the Musical, The Blvd., Jonah & the Whale, and Brother Luke.
Headlining the show is Atari Champ, which disbanded in 2006 but is playing a special acoustic show to help Kennedy.
The whole thing starts at 7:30 p.m. Cover is $6.
We don’t get to see Cole Fonseca up in Fresno all that often, but he’s coming Saturday night to play at Crossroads, 3315 N. Cedar Ave., with his blues/rock band, the Rattlers.Fonseca sings and plays harmonica and is backed on guitar by A.C. Myles. Phillip Santellan (bass) and Randy Stendt (drums) round out The Rattlers.
Show at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5.
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6479. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com/mike.]]>
As the Rogue 2008 Performance Festival heads into its last two days, most of the scheduled shows already have some buzz going — whether good or bad. You can go to fresnobeehive.com/rogue to read staff reviews of more than 25 shows, plus lots of reader comments. But there are some performances that are new. Here’s a roundup by Bee reporters Felicia Cousart Matlosz, Donald Munro and Mike Osegueda.
The Fresno Philharmonic a Rogue participant? Heck, why not? Through fortuitous timing, the symphony will perform this audience-pleasing show at the Saroyan Theatre under the direction of guest conductor George Daugherty. He created this program, a Broadway hit now in its 18th year touring the globe, that revolves around Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and other classic Warner Bros. cartoon characters.The premise: A live orchestra plays the intricate original scores of these cartoons as they’re shown on a big screen. The scores by Carl W. Stalling and Milt Franklyn brilliantly weave classical elements from composers such as Rossini and Wagner into the toon music.
Playing: 2:30 pm. and 8 pm. Saturday at the Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St. Cost: $27-$69; call (559) 261-0600 or go to fresnophil.org for tickets. Rating: G.
Rogue Jazz — a Bring-Your-Own-Venue addition to this year’s festival — winds to a close this weekend with four chances to see the trio known as the Guitar Titans.That’s renowned local guitarists Rich Seversen, Mike Dana and André Bush backed up by Gary Newmark on drums and Roy Carlson on bass.
Playing: 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today and 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at Tower Mosaic Church, 1040 N. Fulton St. Cost: $7. Rated: G.
It’s fitting that Rogue Salon would get involved with the Rogue Festival, right? For its debut offering, the salon has put together a burlesque show called “Inamorata.”It’s part art show, part open house and part fashion show, just without the runway. The Rogue hair and makeup stylists spruced up models in pinup styles and photographed them. The photos will be displayed at the show, which the models also will attend.
Playing: 7 p.m. Saturday at Rogue Salon, 2046 W. Bullard Ave. Cost: $5. Rating: PG-13.
James Howell, a performance artist from Nova Scotia, Canada, presents a piece about a character named Kevin who wants to stage a solo show but can’t manage to get dressed and out of his bedroom. He performs a series of monologues for an imaginary audience on topics ranging from bargain shopping for abortion clinics to hijacking funerals in search of “spiritual DNA.”Playing: 6:15 p.m. today, 1 and 8:45 p.m. Saturday at Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave. Cost: $4. Rating: PG-13.
Virginia performance artist J. Nick Dickert asked 100 men, “What does it mean to be a man?” He weaves their answers along with autobiographical moments and some heart-wrenching stories from gay, HIV positive, abused, neglected and indifferent men navigating identity in the 21st century into a thought-provoking piece of theater.Playing: 10 p.m. today, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave. Cost: $3. Rating: R.
According to Roguer Noel Williams, “Party of One” is directed and co-created by Sue Morrison, who directed the critically acclaimed “Absence of Magic” and “Burnt Tongue,” which have both aired on Bravo.It’s an example of a clown style created by Richard Pochinko, who used American Indian and European techniques to create the form. It is said of American Indian clowning that if you face all directions of yourself at once, you can laugh at the sheer beauty of your own ridiculousness. This style has an intimate theater feel to it and tends to be more tangential and metaphoric than story motivated.
Playing: 5:30 and 10 p.m. today, 1 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton St. Cost: $7. Rating: PG-13.
This production, under the name “unsupported productions,” is a one-woman show starring Kama Ruby. She’s apparently based in Bakersfield. This play is written by Jerry Crawford. According to the blurb in the Rogue catalog, “Corky Brewster began from a true story relayed to me by my oldest brother and evolved into a character study involving middle America, such as my home state, Iowa. The mix of satire and farce can create a strange sense of familiarity to many folks, I am told, especially those with rural roots.”Playing: 5 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. today, 6:15 p.m. Saturday at Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave. Cost: $3. Rating: R.]]>