by Mallory Moad
‘Rogueing’ isn’t a dance move, fad diet, or the latest hip exercise program. Simply put, it’s attending performances at Fresno’s Rogue Performance Festival, commonly known as just “the Rogue.” Although its popularity has continued to increase, there are still people around here who haven’t heard of this showcase of independent performance. If you are a member of that group, you’ve been missing out on one of the most innovative events in Fresno, so keep reading. If you’re a Rogue regular, you know what I’m talking about, but keep reading anyway.
During the first two weekends in March, performing artists from all over the U.S. and Canada will converge on Fresno’s Tower District. This year’s Rogue is the 15th production and has grown in size and reputation since its humble beginnings. The first festival consisted of two stages and nineteen performers, all local. It’s bigger now – a LOT bigger – with over seventy acts and nine venues. With musicians, actors, dancers, comedians, magicians, and storytellers, and show content that ranges from family-friendly to adult-only, there’s something for just about everyone. Tickets are priced from $5 to $10, so you can see a number of quality live shows for less than it would cost to see one bad movie.
There are thirty-two local artists in this year’s Rogue. Most of them have participated numerous times, and their reasons for doing so are as unique as their performances. Singer/songwriter, Victor DesRoches, saw the Rogue as “a great way to get performing experience with a real audience” and to build a following. While for that funny lady, Airplane Jayne, her time spent working behind the scenes prompted her to return to the stage, a place she hadn’t been for awhile. “I felt the bug biting me and was inspired to do the extraordinary.” For actor, Kate McKnight, it’s all about acceptance. “I perform in the Rogue Festival because it’s where I can truly express myself without fear of rejection or derision.”
Musician Randy Morris likes the camaraderie and opportunity to see many, many different shows; singer Leigh Ratliff enjoys the process of working and performing together with her three daughters; musician/urban philosopher Blake Jones appreciates the challenge to do something different and make something new; actor/technical assistant Jay Parks does the Rogue because it allows him to take a risk “in front of an audience prepared to accept risk-taking.” Similarly, storyteller Tony Imperatrice feels the Rogue gives him the “the freedom to do material that would be rejected” elsewhere, and comedian Jaguar Bennett, in his inimitable style, is in it for money, ego gratification, and the chance to work with personally meaningful topics.
All the works in the Rogue Performance Festival are original. You will not see a production of Grease or a cover band playing Beatles tunes. What you will see, however, will be thought-provoking, entertaining, infuriating, and fall-down-laughing funny. All it takes is a ticket, an open mind, and a sense of adventure.
So, are you ‘Rogueing’ this year?
My name is Mallory Moad, and I’ll see you at the Rogue!
For ticket prices, performance descriptions, schedules, and venue locations, visit www.roguefestival.com. Check out KRL’s Arts & Entertainment section to find some Rogue performer preview articles that will be going up all month, and watch for Rogue show reviews here during the Festival.
March 3-16, 2016