Rogue Festival 2016: Vermont Native Acts Out His Inner City Life On Stage

Feb 27, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Arts & Entertainment

by Michael Sommers

The 2016 Rogue Festival is almost here. KRL has been featuring several Festival performer preview articles over the last couple of weeks, and have several more to go between now and opening day, including a couple in this week’s issue! Last weekend we also published an article about the Festival itself. We will also be reviewing many of the shows once the Festival begins in early March, and we may even do some more video interviews. Check out our Rogue Performer event page for more information as it becomes available, and you can also check out the Rogue 2016 website.

Hi! Michael Sommers here! I’m a San Francisco actor/playwright. Well, I live in Oakland, but originally I’m from a small town in Vermont and I’m coming to The Rogue in Fresno!

You know, some playwrights can spend months in dank libraries researching script material for their plays. Not me! I just go outside and sit on my front steps!

I’m bringing my true story, one man play HEART in the HOOD, to Fresno’s Rogue Festival in March. I play all 17 characters. I use mime, sing, and even play my harmonica to tell these true stories from my beloved, but misunderstood, adopted neighborhood.


Michael Sommers as The Bluesman

In my 20-year film career, I’ve worked alongside stars like Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, and others, but I realized that I was living the greatest story I never told! I generated all of the dialogue that makes up HEART in the HOOD by personally witnessing it and recreating it as accurately as possible, assisted by my unique perspective.

You see I’m a small town Vermonter – cows, Bernie Sanders, hockey, and haying – but I bought a house in the only place I could afford in the Bay Area…West Oakland, the inner city, “The Hood,” police sirens, broken glass, shopping carts full of bottles and cans and heart – lots of heart.

I decided earlier last year that my West Oakland experience would make good fodder for a play. So, I started writing stuff down and performing it in the living rooms of some of my friends. I would adjust the material based on feedback.

I ended up with a one-man play in which I portray 17 characters ranging from my neighbor to the local pastor. It is a show in which I display all of my performing talents including singing, harmonica playing, even some mime.

West Oakland is a beautiful, funny, musical, and caring place, that is chock full of stories! Like the bi-polar man who was cured as he pushed a refrigerator down the street, and the ex-con who sacrificed himself for his mother.

This is the standing ovation show that sold out San Francisco’s PianoFight Theater! I have been very pleased!

I perform five shows beginning March 4 at 7:45 p.m. at Fulton Street Art, 1118 N Fulton St, Fresno, CA 93728. Tickets are $5.

Friday – March 4 – 7:45 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.
Saturday – March 5 – 6:45 p.m.
Sunday -March 6 – 3:15 p.m.
Saturday – March 12 – 5:30 p.m.

Learn more at:


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