by Lorie Lewis Ham
Between now and Rogue Festival 2014 we will be featuring several of the performers who will be at this year’s festival, so keep watching for more! Also, today we have a preview of the Festival itself, as we interview one of the Rogue producers this year, Amy Querin.
And if that wasn’t enough, we will have show reviews and video interviews during this year’s Rogue Festival. So keep an eye on our Arts & Entertainment section to catch them all! Also check out our Rogue Performer Event page for fliers and press releases for more of the performers!
KRL: For those of our readers who may not know, please tell us briefly what Rogue Festival is?
Amy: What isn’t the Rogue?? The brief description doesn’t do the Rogue justice at all. It’s a performance festival, commonly called a “fringe” festival, but really it’s an amazing gathering of international and local “creatives” who come up with the most interesting ways to showcase their particular skill sets, people who make in- and out-of-the-box choices to stimulate emotions and discussion for the audience members who choose them. Other than that it’s just your typical non-juried fringe festival run entirely by volunteers, with all of the ticket monies going directly to the performers – a two week run of fun with ten venues in the Tower District, each show earning four to five performance slots.
KRL: When is it?
Amy: Ah, a much easier question. It runs for two weeks starting February 27. This year we’re opening with a fundraiser at the Tower Theatre, a showcase of Rogue shows – sort of around the Rogue in 80 minutes, with a silent auction, adult beverages, and dozens of unique looks emanating from the stage – it’s really a huge Rogue party before the Rogue even starts (usually we wait until the end for the big bash) – and finally, the ticket money goes to the Rogue for production costs, rather than the ticket dollars going to the performers. Hey, this thing isn’t cheap to put on anymore! It’s our 13th year.
Tickets for the fundraiser are just $10, available through the Tower Box office, in person or online, by phone, whatever.
KRL: What is your position?
Amy: I am one of the three Rogue Producers this year, all female, all dynamic, and all miraculously holding the fort with over 100 volunteers helping out.
KRL: When and how did you first become involved with Rogue?
Amy: Typical for me I don’t do anything “kind of.” I knew about the Rogue of course, as a Tower person and performer, and I’d just launched my own dance company, NOCO, and in a fit of crazy talk, I decided to bring my own venue (that’s an option for performers who need or want any venue other than the “established” Rogue venues like Strummers or Veni Vidi Vici – you can apply and set-up your own choice of venue), and my venue choice was the 750- seat Tower Theatre. What was I thinking!? Most venues seat from 50-150 people or so, but I wanted to bring in guest artists from out of state, and I thought I could fill the Tower. I did that, but I still don’t know what I was thinking. It was a huge project, but what an amazing opportunity for my dedicated dancers and the guest artists.
It was also a good place to launch a very large scale organic piece I’d been choreographing for some time. It was after that event in 2012 that the then-producer duo, Jayne Day & Renee Newlove, ear-marked me to join the team. It was seamless, really. I enjoy the work, and more importantly, I really enjoy the people who produce Rogue. I mean, the community of people it takes to produce Rogue: our ‘hardcore team,’ Tower businesses who deal with a two week frenzy of audience members (we typically sell over 10k tickets during the festival), all the volunteers, the performers, and especially the audiences.
KRL: What are the venues this year? Are there ones that are different from past years?
Amy: The venues change every year, thanks to the “Bring your own venue (BYOV)” concept. Instead of just listing venues, it’s easier for everyone to go to the website and click on “calendar” and at the very top of the page you’ll see colorful options for each and every venue. New venues this year include Mia Cuppa and Bistro 566, and returning folks shouldn’t freak out over the name “Strummers” – it’s still the Starline space and stage, but with new owners and a new name. They bring in several touring bands each week, so it’s great they’re allowing us to come in and use the updated space for Rogue shows – they’ve put in all-new lighting and sound, so it’s an even better space than last year. The Strummers Gril will act as “Rogue Central” for us and the performers, a great place for audience members to catch the performers before and after their shows.
KRL: Is there anything different about the festival this year?
Amy: We’re always listening and improving. We started the idea of a weekend pass last year, which was complicated –$75 and would allow the people who have it to attend as many shows in a weekend as they wanted. We sold out of those last year, but we decided to keep the number limited this year as well, so if anyone buys those, they’ll need to get them soon. Also, we recently started using Rogue Bucks to get people into the shows. We do NOT accept cash for tickets at any of the Rogue venues – people must get Rogue Bucks prior to their shows. Rogue Bucks are convenient to get centrally at the Tower Box office and Livingstones, but you can’t get them at the venues! We also heard from folks who bought Rogue Bucks last year who couldn’t use them for all the BYOV shows, so we fixed that. If it’s an official Rogue Venue, they will take Rogue Bucks, Cal Arts – Severance, The Voice Shop, & Studio 74, they will take bucks or cash.
What does happen sometimes is folks can’t get into popular shows (usually on the second weekend when word of mouth has really pushed one show or another), and they have Rogue Bucks still in-hand. The best thing to do is see shows the first weekend, to map your Rogue experience beforehand.
KRL: Why do you feel an event like this is important to Fresno?
Amy: Again, why would it not be?? The Rogue was important to Fresno when it first started 13
years ago as a great opportunity for local theatre folks to put on unique and original plays. Now it’s doubly useful for local performers – they get to perform, but also get to learn and compare themselves with some of the award-winning shows from around the world. The Rogue has grown so well we attract performers and shows that have won major awards in Edinburgh (the original and largest ‘fringe’), Canada, Boulder, San Francisco, etc. Talk about a great opportunity for Fresno audience members as well!
KRL: What do you enjoy most about Rogue?
Amy: Well, as an adjunct professor at two different locations, the founder and choreographer of NOCO dance and now NOCO aerial, I thought I had too much time on my hands. So I guess I personally thank the Rogue for keeping me busy. Seriously, I can’t think of anything I don’t enjoy about the Rogue. I think what I enjoy the most is seeing people new to the performing or volunteering experience, seeing them with that Rogue sparkle in their eyes, like they just discovered the best thing ever and can’t wait to have the same spark happen with the next show they see, or the next big performer they get to share some time with at Landmark or Strummers. It’s just a wonderful fulfilling experience, both emotionally and intellectually, really for people of all ages (depending on
KRL: Are you performing, or involved with a performance, this year?
Amy: Yes! NOCO is performing. The Rogue is great for me personally, because I can move with my dancers into presenting edgier pieces – this year we’re presenting “Raw Meat and Dignity.” You’ll need to read the description online.
KRL: What do people need to do and know to attend Rogue?
Amy: To use the website and calendar to help map out their show choices. To bring someone who has never been before – it’s not fair to get that spark and not share it!
KRL: Who are some of the returning performers this year?
Amy: Again, I refer you to the website, but we’re welcoming back Gemma Wilcox, who’s bringing back “The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over” where she plays dozens of characters, including animals and fire. Yes. Fire. The popular Reverend Nuge is teaming with Kurt Fitzpatrick for a show called “Bromance” (they met at Rogue and now are teaming up at Rogue!). Beth Megill is back with a new set of amazing dancers (including some NOCO board members, in another Rogue-made team-up), and many of our local favorites are back.
KRL: Who did this year’s Muse?
Amy: This is interesting, as artist Tiffany Hurtado is actually known for her doodles, not for her full-on paint work. She had an exhibition of her figure work in last year’s Rogue, and so she decided to enter a particular painting for The Muse. She calls her work “surreal portraiture” and it fits every element of what a fringe festival muse should be.
KRL: What exactly is a Muse for Rogue and how do you go about choosing one?
Amy: It started with Marcel Nunis, when he founded the Rogue so many years ago, he wanted to feature many arts, not just plays, so he came up with the idea of having an official muse, a local piece of artwork to provide a lasting impression and a logo that can change for each year of the Rogue, just as the Rogue itself changes from year to year.
KRL: How can people volunteer?
Amy: The website! We are holding Rogue Festival Volunteer meetings on February 8 and 22, at Mia Cuppa at 11 a.m. Come out find out how easy it is to be a part of the Rogue Festival! (As of press time you can still hurry over to the meeting on February 22–but if you miss out this year volunteer for 2015!)
KRL: Why would you recommend volunteering with Rogue?
Amy: Remember the spark? Not only do you get it when you attend and watch Rogue performances, but you can also watch others get it by volunteering. You get to be part of the magic that happens (and I’m not going overboard here, it really is magical), and you also get free passes for shows based on how many hours you volunteer!
More importantly, the volunteer who takes on a 2-4 hour shift this year might become the volunteer who co-produces the Rogue in years to come.
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
Amy: Find someone who fears the Tower, or loves the north-side, or has never been to The Rogue and bring them. Force them away from the TV one night, snatch them away from Eureka Burger or River Park, get them to put away their trail mix for one day or night, and bring them to a Rogue show. It’s worth it to see the spark fire up in their eyes, just like it fired up in yours.
Learn about the history of the Rogue Festival in a past article here in KRL, and get some tips on doing the Rogue from local theatre actor/director/producer Heather Parish from her KRL article here in 2011. And don’t forget to check out the Rogue performer preview articles and watch for Rogue reviews & interviews in our Arts & Entertainment Section!