by Tracy Hostmyer
& James Phillip Gates
It is almost time for Rogue Festival again–it will be taking place March 6-14 in the Tower District of Fresno. Throughout the month of February we will be publishing many Rogue Festival performer preview articles. This year we have added a special category where you will be able to find all of our Rogue Festival articles. During Rogue we will be reviewing shows as usual, and we also have a Rogue Festival event page with more information!
Roust Theatre Company is based in New York City, and we are very excited to be part of The Rogue Festival for the first time as it celebrates its eighteenth anniversary. We have always had a strong and special connection with Fresno. Roust’s co-founder, Tracy Hostmyer, grew up here, went to Fresno State with one of Rogue’s founders, Marcel Nunis, and started her acting career with Good Company Players & Second Space.
Roust has produced two highly successful shows in New York that originated in Fresno:
We produced and directed the re-imagined Off-Broadway version of Janka written by Oscar Speace and starring Janice Noga, constant creative forces on the Fresno theatre scene! This critically acclaimed production, supported by a host of loyal Fresnans and the generosity of Fresno Arts Council, brought the harrowing and redemptive story of the holocaust survivor of the title to the Off-Broadway stage. And as part of the New York International Fringe Festival (tipped as a ‘must-see’ show by the Fringe), we developed, produced, and directed local playwright Kevin HcHatten’s menacing thriller Terror Superhighway at the Cherry Lane Theatre.
We have never had an opportunity to perform here until now. We are extremely grateful to have been so warmly welcomed by the Fresno theatrical community and look forward to engaging the Fresno audience with Bertolt Brecht’s The Jewish Wife.
The Jewish Wife, set in 1930s Germany and written while Brecht was in exile in Denmark, was first performed during the rise of the Nazi regime. One might think that eighty years would be long enough to eradicate the prejudices celebrated by the Nazi party, that the world would never want to perpetuate their fascist ideology, but as we have seen recently this ideology is thriving in the American heartland: Nazi flags flying in Charlottesville, attacks on Synagogues and the home of a Rabbi, Fresno Temples sending letters during the holidays instructing members what to do if an active shooter shows up during a service. Antisemitism is alive and well. The Jewish Wife is not just about being Jewish, it is about being the ‘other,’ the one who is not like ‘us’; ultimately the fear of the ‘other’ that is stirred up by those in power to give the populace something on which to focus while their democracy is slowly stripped away right in front of their eyes.
The Jewish Wife gets personal. It doesn’t focus on politics, but on an ordinary couple, whose deep love for each other is undermined and eroded away by the rising fear perpetuated around them. The fear makes the love impossible. Love should win, but it doesn’t. If you choose love, you lose your job; if you choose love, you lose your friends; if you choose love, you die. That’s why this play is so relevant today, because we need to remember what intense fear does to regular people, just like us, and how destructive it is to ALL of us.
Roust Theatre Company first performed The Jewish Wife as part of Bertolt Brecht’s Fear and Misery of the Third Reich (aka The Private Life of the Master Race) in a contemporary American translation by Binyamin Shalom in the spring of 2006 at The Walkerspace Theatre in New York City. It was our first production as a theatre company.
“As the very young Roust Theatre Company demonstrates, Brecht is as provocative and contemporary as ever” —New York Times.
Roust Theatre Company, co-founded by Tracy Hostmyer and James Phillip Gates, is dedicated to radical and epoch-making theatre. They aim to challenge and inspire an audience, and firmly believe that theatre allows us to connect with the communities around us, to open us to experiences and people we may never encounter. Since inception, they have sought to educate and inform both new and seasoned audiences, and to hold this audience in the grip of unrelenting and imaginative theatre which forces them to sit up and question the world around them. rousttheatrecompany.org
The Jewish Wife will perform as follows:
At: Severance Theatre (1401 N. Wishon Ave), Fresno, CA
Saturday, March 7 @ 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 8 @ 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 11 @ 8 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 @ 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 @ 4 p.m.
Approximate running time: 30 minutes
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, and also on Podbean.
Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.