by Terrance Mc Arthur
Fresno—Birthplace of William Saroyan!
Fresno—Home of the Forestierre Underground Gardens!
Fresno—Gateway to National Parks!
Fresno—Home of the Fresno Rogue Festival!
For 17 years, February and March have brought crowds to Fresno’s Tower District for the Rogue Festival, where dozens of performers and groups from the Valley and beyond show what they can do in makeshift venues for sometimes-soaked audiences. Now, it’s time for Rogue XVIII, from February 28 to March 9, a cornucopia of theatre, music, dance, magic, stand-up, and acts that defy description!
What do you need to know? What do you need to do? How can you prepare to get the most out of the Rogue? Let Kings River Life be your guide.
How do I know what shows to see?
Every show has its merits. Even if you don’t like a show, it’ll give you a great story to tell your friends. Get yourself a Rogue Program, which has information on each show, a schedule for the performances, and features the smiling face of Marcel Nunis (who helped put this whole festival together in 2001-2002: The Roguefather) on the cover. Also, you can go to the Rogue Teaser Show at the Tower Theatre on Thursday, February 28 at 7 p.m., the night before the Rogue Festival officially opens. About thirty of the more than fifty shows will get to present a five-minute snippet or explanation or song or dance or trick or something related to what you’d see if you go to see them. Maybe you’ll like what they do. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll be so confused you’ll have to go see their show so you can figure out what they’re doing. Another way to learn about a show is to check out the Rogue Festival website for reviews and news. On top of that, the kindly folks at Kings River Life are printing articles and interviews by and about the performers, and the online magazine will have reviews of every show their staff can get to see.
How much does it cost?
That depends on the show. Each show has its own ticket. At the larger venues, prices range from $10 to $15 ($12 is the most common ticket price). Most of the smaller locations are $7, with a few bargain prices below that level. The official Rogue Wristband that helps fund the festival, needed for admission, is $5. There is a special, 10-show ticket that sells for $100. All the ticket money goes to the performers, so the Rogue is funded by wristband sales and any donations made by the audience as they leave a venue.
Venue? What venue?
Most of the Rogue show venues (locations) are in the Tower District, along Olive, Wishon, Fulton, and Van Ness. A few productions take place in backyard tents and Downtown’s offices of the Fresno Arts Council.
How do I get tickets and wristbands?
Tickets and wristbands can be purchased online, at the venue, or at the Rogue Store, a tent set up in the parking lot of The Revue (620 E. Olive). The Rogue Store is also where you can purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts, bumper stickers, buttons, and other Rogue memorabilia.
Can I be fashionably late?
Uh-uh. That’s a no-no for two reasons.
1. Rogue shows are short: 45 minutes or an hour.
2. Seating is first-come, first in line. If it’s a hot ticket that everyone wants to see, it may be sold out; there may not be room for latecomers. Some performers allow late arrivals to be seated during the first fifteen minutes, but you shouldn’t be a rude Roguer.
I’m sure you’re not rude, but you know the people I’m talking about—Taking calls (Make sure your phone is silenced or off), talking during the show (This isn’t a TV show—the performers can hear you), taking photos (think about the people around you!). You wouldn’t want to be like that, would you? Would you? Hmm?
Anything else I need to know?
Well, you need to remember that the Tower is a busy neighborhood with limited parking, and you’ll have to go from location to location quickly. Try to find a parking spot that gives easy access to multiple venues, and wear shoes you can walk in without turning an ankle if you’re in a hurry. You know how unpredictable Fresno weather is in March. Consider bringing an umbrella and a coat or jacket. Many of the shows are after dark, so a flashlight might be useful. For safety’s sake, make sure you lock your car when you leave it, and keep valuables locked and out of sight in the trunk. Speaking of safety, how about Rogueing with a friend…or two…or more? Walking alone at night can be unsettling, you know.
Remember to check Kings River Life for your Rogue news and reviews.
Look, the Rogue Festival is about having fun and seeing things you’ve never seen before.
Enjoy! Go Rogue!
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. The first 13 episodes are now up! You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean. Also check out our other theatre articles and reviews in our Arts and Entertainment section.