by Lorie Lewis Ham
Renee “Solitaire” Newlove is this year’s Co-Producer/Performer Relations for the Fresno Rogue Festival and has been involved with the Rogue Festival for several years. Since this is her last year in this position it seemed a perfect time to chat with her about her experiences, and a little about this year’s festival which is just a couple of weeks away!
Lorie: Can you give any readers who aren’t familiar with Rogue Festival just a brief synopsis of what it is?
Renee: The Rogue Festival is an independent performance and art festival which takes place in Fresno, CA every year at the beginning of March. We are modeled after the Fringe Festivals which are popular all over the world. The 2013 Rogue Performance and Art Festival will be the 12th year of Rogue. We are excited to have performance and art from all over the world performing during the days of Rogue.
Lorie: When and how did you first get involved with Rogue?
Renee: In 2005, I was a new actress in Fresno, I had just been cast in the Woodward Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural production of Much Ado About Nothing and I was invited to a barbeque at Marcel Nunis’ house for the 4th of July. There were many people who had been a part of the Rogue team there and they asked me if I would be willing to volunteer. I said yes. I began as an assistant Venue Manager and performer at the 2006 Rogue Performance and Art Festival and have been with the Rogue ever since.
Lorie: Have you had more than one position with the festival?
Renee: Oh yes. I started out as an assistant venue manager and performer. Since I’ve been the Venue Manager for Starline, Performer Relations, Hospitality Coordinator, BYOV Coordinator, and a Co-Producer of the Rogue.
Lorie: Why did you want to get involved?
Renee: I loved the idea of the Rogue Festival. Here was this rag-tag group of people who saw a need for theatre in Fresno and they made it work. The Rogue supports all walks of Art and it really is unique to anything else I have ever seen offered in Fresno. I believe in the stance Rogue takes, in that 100% of the ticket sales goes back to the performer. In this economy, where school arts programs are shutting down, having something like the Rogue survive is a really big deal for me. I believe in the Rogue Festival, I always will.
Lorie: What all are your responsibilities with Rogue this year and in past ones?
Renee: There is a lot of networking that happens with the Rogue Festival. Communication is key and there is a lot of time that is involved in working with each performance group in order to make sure their Rogue experience is the best it can be. In past years I have always tried to be a source of information for our performers as well as those volunteers that make the Rogue run as well as it does. The responsibilities are seemingly endless and it takes an army of volunteers to get the Rogue Festival up and running each year. My positions have kept me in the mix of that hive of activity.
Lorie: What is the hardest part of what you do?
Renee: Time management is the hardest part of my job with the Rogue Festival right now. Balancing life with the necessities for the Rogue is something that needs to be constantly dealt with. The performers and volunteers are all a vital part to the Rogue and their needs, concerns, and questions all need to be addressed and solutions or answers need to be found as soon as possible. This is sometimes difficult, but always necessary.
Lorie: What is the part you like best?
Renee: I love the family that Rogue creates. Once you are a part of the Rogue Festival it is like an extended part of your family. We love everyone who decides to come back year after year, whether they are performers, volunteers, or audience members. I love seeing each person who I recognize or know from previous years in March. It’s like a yearly family reunion. The art that is celebrated during the Rogue Festival is unparalleled in Fresno. I don’t think there’s another place that provides the caliber of performances during the Rogue Festival in the multitude that is Rogue.
Lorie: Do you have any other local connection with and involvement in the arts?
Renee: I used to perform with Good Company Players, the Woodward Shakespeare Festival, and Theatre Ventoux. I started working for a living on the weekends which took me away from performing on the stage, so I found other avenues which lead me to participating in the arts in any way I can. I look forward to supporting the arts in whatever way I can, maybe even returning to the stage someday.
Lorie: Why is this your last year?
Renee: I am currently in my Final Student Teaching position and working on a single subject credential in English. Ideally next year I will be in my first year of teaching. I need to focus on my career and think about my future in that career. It has been a tough decision and even harder to admit that this will in fact be my last year.
Lorie: Where do you go from here?
Renee: I will stay in Fresno as long as I can find a teaching position here. I plan on moving to a consulting position for the Rogue Festival, which is a lot less time consuming than my positions I have now. I love Fresno and I love the Rogue Festival. I will be around, just not in the active role that I have been as of late.
Lorie: Who will be taking over your position?
Renee: Amy Querin and Barbara Coy-Hogan are the Rogue Festival Assistant Co-Producers and are currently being trained in how the Rogue Festival runs. There are so many different elements to producing the Rogue Festival and both Amy and Barbara are amazing additions to the team. I am excited to hear about their ideas and where their vision for the future Rogues will advance the festival!
Lorie: Can you tell us a little more about yourself, your background?
Renee: I have a lot of energy, I am passionate about the arts, English, Shakespeare, and teaching. I have a few ideas about future projects which deal with opening up artistic opportunities for teenagers, especially those who may feel that they do not have any opportunity to be creative. I am dedicated to being a life-long learner and I cannot wait to get into the next adventure of my life journey.
Lorie: Anything special or new we can look forward to at this year’s Rogue?
Renee: We have some new Bring Your Own Venues this year for the Rogue! Bloo and Tower Velo are brand new venues for this year. We have some performers returning to the Rogue and a lot of new faces. The Rogue always brings a great variety of art and this year is shaping up to be one of the best!
KRL has enjoyed working with Renee the past few years and wishes her all the best in her new ventures! If you would like to know more about the history of the Rogue Festival check out this 2011 article here in KRL: Rogue Festival Celebrates 10th Year! and check out this article with tips on attending Rogue from 2011: Doing De Rogue: A Guide To The Rogue Festival Through Its Vocabulary. Also in KRL this year we have already had several Rogue Preview articles by this year’s performers with more to come all of which can be found in our A & E section, have another Rogue tips article coming next week & will be reviewing several of the shows at Rogue during the Festival. You can also seeing promo from several of this year’s performers on our Rogue Event page.