by Fools Collaborative,
& Joshua Taylor
The Rogue Festival will be here soon, we are on the home stretch-it opens on March 1! Here we have 2 more Rogue Show Previews-these 2 are both from locals and all are members of the Fools Collaborative. We will have one more preview article up this weekend. You will be able to find them all of them in our Arts & Entertainment section along with a guide to Rogue article that went up on Monday. We also have a Rogue Festival event page with many of their press releases, and an article about this year’s Muse. Once Rogue starts, you can come back here for Rogue show reviews and possibly some video interviews! Reviews will be going up during the weekend and throughout the next week.
S’Will at Rogue Festival
by Fools Collaborative
The Fools Collaborative is set to bring back their wildly popular drunk Shakespeare Rogue show, S’Will, to this year’s festival, which runs March 1-9 in Fresno’s Tower District. This time around, the group is tackling a condensed and “lovingly mangled” version of the timeless love story, Romeo and Juliet. The cast includes original S’Will cast members Casey Ballard, Miguel Gastelum, and Haley White, along with new players Eric Galvan, Justin Ray, and Nicole Spate. Former Rogue Festival Executive Director Heather Parish directs.
The concept of performing Shakespeare while inebriated is not a new one, but The Fools believe their version pays greater attention to Shakespeare’s actual text more than other versions they’ve seen in person or researched online.
Every night, about an hour before curtain, one single cast member is chosen at random to be the evening’s drunk. That actor has until showtime to “swill” alcohol. The rest of the cast remains sober in order to help coach the inebriated player through the show. Improv, audience participation, and modern pop culture references help ensure that every single performance is different from the next.
“A lot of groups really let the booze take center stage,” says White, Creative Director for The Fools. “Our version aims to keep Shakespeare’s language in the the spotlight while letting the everything else be the catalyst that helps us expose new audiences to his words. We really believe you have to take the Shakespeare part seriously in order for the rest of the silliness to work.”
As always, The Fools Collaborative is using their Rogue engagement to raise money for a worthy cause. This year, in line with themes of the play, $1 per ticket will be donated to Fresno Survivors of Suicide Loss, a program of Hinds Hospice that provides emotional support to suicide loss survivors and education to our community about issues related to suicide.
“We love being able to have fun as actors and bring lighthearted entertainment to our audiences,” says White. “But we also recognize the themes of the play for what they are. Suicide has touch multiple families in The Fools Collaborative, and we are happy to support a local organization who is doing great work to help minimize the stigma surrounding suicide and suicide contemplation, as well as heal individuals affected by such loss.”
S’Will will run at the 2019 Rogue Festival in the Tower Theatre Lounge with performances on March 2 at 3:30 p.m., March 3 at 5 p.m., March 8 at 9 p.m., and March 9 at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door thirty minutes before curtain, cash or card. The Tower Lounge is located at 809 E. Olive Ave. in the Tower District.
Dancing On My Own
by Joshua Ryan Taylor
When I was twelve-years-old, I saw myself on screen for the first time. Not me, literally, but me as in a gay man. I had never seen gay men portrayed in fiction, and here was an epic, grand love story. It ended with one being beaten to death and the other living a lonely, miserable life in poverty, clutching a pair of shirts that symbolized the love he’d never again feel.
Surely there had to be other, better representations of gay men in stories. So I searched. I found movies that had gay men, but they all involved them dying of AIDS or being murdered or committing suicide or serving as the comic relief which allowed the straight male protagonist to surmount his personal struggles and get the girl (who, it should be mentioned, never wanted him in the first place.)
Even on stage, every time I saw gay men represented, it was only in the context of dying of AIDS or being beaten to death in Wyoming or experiencing boring drama in a living room.
So I asked – why aren’t these stories representing life as a gay man as I understand it? Oh. Because they’re all made by straight people.
Sure enough, every time I found myself thinking, “This isn’t how gay men have sex,” or “This isn’t how gay men love,” or “This isn’t how gay men live.” I checked the credits, and the stories were written, directed, and/or acted by straight people. Of course, they got it wrong.
This is all preamble to the primary point. I’ve never found a gay love story that works. The two stories that got closest were the 2014 Brazilian film Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho and the YouTube series The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo. They were, unsurprisingly, written, directed, and starring gay men. So I wrote one.
My goal was to write a gay love story that was 1) optimistic and had a happy ending, 2) did not involve murder, suicide, or AIDS, and 3) was truthful to the experience of being a gay man, as I understand it.
Enter Dancing On My Own.
(For those wondering, yes, it is named for the Robyn song. A working knowledge of Robyn’s discography is helpful, but unnecessary, in understanding some smaller moments in the show.)
Dancing On My Own tells the story of Anderson, a twenty-something gay man from Fresno, living in Chicago. At the behest of his dying grandmother, he embarks on a journey to have sex with 100 different men. His sexual escapades take his across the country and deep into the heart of what it means to be a gay man at this specific point in history.
It has never been easier to be a gay man in the U.S. Gay clubs are no longer regularly raided by police. You can no longer be fired or denied housing for being gay. A gay man in search of sex no longer has to cruise a specific park at 2 a.m. running the risk of being assaulted and/or murdered by undercover police; he can just open one of many (many, many) apps specifically designed to connect gay men. If a gay man wants to see himself on screen, there are plenty of movies with straight actors playing gay men.
And yet the history leaves a stain on every gay man’s psyche. With the advent of PrEP, gay men have little to fear from HIV, let alone AIDS. But does that stop us from thinking about the hundreds of thousands of gay men who perished from the plague less than forty years ago? How can I have a sexual experience without thinking about how that very act caused the deaths of an entire generation of my brothers? How can I pay tribute to gay men of history whose bravery and sacrifices have allowed me to live openly?
I don’t have all the answers. I just have a play. It’s a good one, mind you. I’ve been writing plays since I was a kid, and this will be my sixth play that’s been produced. It’s my best. It’s funny, moving, and the best damn gay love story I’ve ever known. Come see it.
Dancing On My Own plays at CalArts Severance – 1401 N. Wishon Ave.
March 6 – 7:30 p.m.
March 7 – 7 p.m.
March 8 – 10:00 p.m.
March 9 – 8 p.m.
Trigger Warning: I know hardly a gay man without his own #MeToo story. There is a scene late in the play that portrays Anderson’s.
If you love 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.