Three More Rogue Performer Previews: Portrait of the Heretic as a Young Woman, Climbing My Family Tree, & What They Said About Sex

Feb 22, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Rogue Festival, Theatre

by Candice Holdorf,
Les Kurkendaal, & Steve Budd

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!

Three More Rogue Performer Previews: Portrait of the Heretic as a Young Woman, Climbing My Family Tree, and What They Said About Sex

Looking for God in All the Wrong Places:
Candice Holdorf’s Solo Show, Portrait of the Heretic as a Young Woman, Comes to Rogue 2020

by Candice Holdorf

“The first time Jesus made love to me, I was twelve years old.”

This was the original opening line of my new solo performance show, Portrait of the Heretic as a Young Woman, debuting at the Rogue Festival this year. And while this line now makes its appearance two-thirds of the way through the show, it still encapsulates the driving force behind my journey in Portrait.

Portrait first began as a series of monologues written during a two-month solo performance workshop led by David Ford at the Marsh Theatre in San Francisco. As a writer and theatre performer, I had only performed my work onstage in collaborative ensemble pieces. David’s class marked my foray into creating an entire work of theatre art that was wholly mine. rogue

The first monologue I wrote explored the recent death of my Pawpaw (grandfather) and how his relationship with Jesus – he was a devout Christian – sparked a questioning of where my own faith lies. While I don’t consider myself Christian or religious, I have always been drawn to houses of worship and mystical practices borne out of spiritual ritual. During Pawpaw’s memorial, I learned more about him than I knew when he was alive – things that paralleled my own spiritual journey, despite our ideological differences. So it made me wonder, “Where else could the spirit of Jesus be residing unseen?”

Perhaps not surprisingly, I found evidence of Jesus during some of the most difficult moments of my life – battling anorexia, divorce, living in a sex cult. My inquiry takes me all the way back to the point when Jesus made love to me at twelve years old at a fundamentalist youth retreat in the Deep South, where I grew up. During the retreat, we ran the gamut of religious exhibitionist practices – slain in the spirit, exorcisms, etc. But one day during the retreat, I had what I believe was a real-life encounter with the spirit of Jesus. Problem was, it didn’t look anything like church taught us it would be.

Near the end of the two-month workshop, I realized that this play held a deeper calling for me and yearned to be shared with a wider audience. That’s when I applied for the Rogue Festival and was accepted! At that point, I knew I would need some professional coaching to help craft the story and uplevel the performance. That’s when I hired director and acting teacher, M. Graham Smith, for a weeklong excavation into the heart of Portrait. His coaching helped me shape the narrative and understand why I needed to tell this story.

Like the James Joyce book from which the play’s title is inspired, Portrait explores themes of identity, religion, freedom, eroticism, mythology, the Hero’s Journey (or Heroine’s in this case), spiritual reclamation, and self-acceptance – even if it’s at the cost of everything I’ve held dear my whole life.

What you will see at the Rogue is a debut workshop production. Simple lights, simple set, simple sound. My inquiry for this production is to see if the story comes through using my words and performance alone while also (hopefully) inviting us all to reclaim that which is holy in our lives.

I look forward to praying with you there.

WHAT: Solo performance show, Portrait of the Heretic as a Young Woman, debuting at the Rogue Festival 2020 in Fresno, CA. It’s 3am. Summertime. 1993. Twelve-year-old Candice is marching around a Georgia campground with a group of church-going teens hell-bent (so to speak) on “banishing the devil” from camp. The next day, she unexpectedly has an encounter with Jesus and wonders, “Maybe the church has had it wrong this whole time?”
WHO: Candice Holdorf, writer and performer
WHERE: Spectrum Art Gallery, 608 E Olive Ave, Fresno, CA
WHEN: Sat, March 7 – 3 p.m., Sun, March 8 – 6:45 p.m., Fri, March 13 – 7:15 p.m., Sat, March 14 – 1:45 p.m.
TICKETS: $7. Pre-purchase available at
PG-13. 45 minutes. Latecomers welcome.

Candice is an award-winning author, screenwriter, producer, director, performer, teacher, and erotic embodiment coach. She is the author of Reclaiming Eros: A Heroine’s Journey and The Heart of Eros: One Hundred Haikus To Share With Your Beloveds. She wrote the short film, Generations, which won Best Short Film at the 2018 California Independent Film Festival, Best Acting Ensemble at the 2018 Alameda Film Fest, and Best LGBT Short Film at the 2019 Sierra International Film Weekend. She co-produced and co-directed the music video RISE/Vulnerable Rally with Gabriel Diamond, which had its festival world premiere at Dances With Films in 2018 and won Best Music Video at the My Hero Film Fest. Candice won the Best Dramatic Short Script Award for her screenplay, Magdalena, at the 2015 Woods Hole Film Festival and the 2015 California Women’s Film Festival. She is a founding member of New York City’s award-winning Flux Theatre Ensemble and co-wrote/co-produced the play, 36:24:36, which premiered at the 2007 NY Fringe Festival. BFA: Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

Les Kurkendaal Barrett Climbs His Family Tree
by Les Kurkendaal

Los Angeles,California, 1/23/20 Los Angeles-based actor/storyteller Les Kurkendaal is returning to Rogue Festival with a brand new show, Climbing My Family Tree. Les is given an AncestryDNA kit for his birthday, and he gets results that he is not expecting. Not only is he introduced to a wealth of family history, he gets a huge surprise. Les is black. His parents are black. Why are a good number of his relatives that the Ancestry Website is matching him up with white? Follow Les as he plays detective to solve this mystery.rogue

“I found out a lot of fascinating facts about my ancestors. For example my tenth Great Grandfather was Duke Abraham Arcenaux of Paris, France, who was gifted land in Louisiana by Louis XIV because they were friends. We have a family crest and everything. The lesson that I learned is that racism is dumb because you never know what your genetic make up is.”

“The fun part for me is that I have been meeting various cousins who I have been matched with on the website,” enthuses Les. “A few of them have come to see my shows.”

Les has performed at The Rogue Festival numerous times. Why does he keep coming back? “I love the Fresno audience. They are fun and enthusiastic and I really feel appreciated here,” says Kurkendaal-Barrett. “Audiences are very loyal here. I have made friends for life in Fresno.”

The show is at Studio 74, 1274 N Van Ness Ave in the Tower District
Friday, March 6 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 7 at 8 p.m.
Wednesday, March 11 at 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 at 7 p.m.
Friday, March 13 at 8:30 p.m.

For more information go to

What They Said About Sex
by Steve Budd

I’ve had a lot of fun and success with my first interview-based solo show, What They Said About Love, and wanted to use the same formula to create a new, related show. For What They Said About Love, which won Best of the 2016 San Francisco Fringe and had an extended run at The Marsh in Berkeley and SF in 2018, I interviewed dozens of couples and used their words in my script. I ended up playing over a dozen characters and weaving in the story of my own search for “the one.”

A show about sex seemed like a good idea for a follow-up. Again, I conducted interviews, asking people about their sex lives. I was lucky to find some very forthcoming people all over the sexual spectrum, including a gay man, a bi-woman, a sexually active octogenarian, a polyamorous woman, people into BDSM, a former stripper, and a trans man. They shared lots of great stories with me—some very funny, some quite moving. I also weave in stories from my own checkered past—some painful, some funny, all great learning experiences.rogue

Part of the inspiration behind What They Said About Sex was that I wanted to talk to people who have gone places sexually that I haven’t gone, and see if I want to go there. What do they know that I don’t know, I wondered. As it turns out, quite a lot. I was a late bloomer and still have some catching up to do.

I hope people will come away from my show with the feeling that whatever they’re struggling with sexually is something they can get through—and that others have been through the same thing, or worse. And I hope anybody who feels they’re weird sexually will leave the show feeling more comfortable and self-accepting. Because you know what? We’re all pretty weird when you come right down to it. And, as an actor who’s also a standup comic, I hope people laugh a lot during my show and leave the theater (or gallery, as the case may be) with a smile on their faces.

I’ve done a lot of theater over the years, first in Boston, and since 2006 in the Bay Area. I performed my first full-length solo show in 2016 and feel like I’ve finally found my niche in the theater world. I’ve performed “What They Said About Love” in L.A., Portland, Ottawa, Indianapolis, New York, Boston, and London. I’m looking forward to enjoying similar success with What They Said About Sex. It’s a pleasure to be debuting the first forty-five minutes of the show (which will ultimately be 60-75 minutes long) at the Rogue Festival. I’ve heard great things about the Rogue from other performers and am excited to take part in the 2020 festival.


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