by Terrance Mc Arthur
Thursday night, I went to the Rogue Teaser show.
I was teased.
In a little more than 90 minutes, I saw bits and pieces of more than 30 shows that will be on the stages of the 2015 Rogue Festival around the Tower District and Downtown Fresno. Each taste of the Rogue was a two-minute tidbit, a morsel tempting the cultural taste buds. There was only one problem—this was only half of the Rogue roster. Between February 27 and March 7, how could you see more than 60 different shows spread across nine venues?
You can’t, unless you’re friends with a certain Dr. Brown and have the keys to his time-traveling DeLorean. Since you probably aren’t able to bend the space-time continuum, maybe I can suggest a few shows to see, based on what I saw at the Teaser show and the track record of some of the other acts.
Gemma Wilcox, that delightful British import with a lot of characters under the hood, is back in town with 2010’s Shadows in Bloom, featuring an acerbic Calla lily (Don’t try to figure it out. Just know that it belongs there.). Erica Lann-Clark, a nationally-known storyteller who packs a lot of power into a small bundle of a body, explains how a Jewish girl rebels in an atheist family in Still Shopping for God. In Who Is White Thunder, Charles Tenney sings of life, love, and ugly girls with beautiful voices. Megill & Company (just Megill for the night) did a two-minute exploration in dance of all the emotions and styles I would expect to see in an entire one-hour show. Lark is a Mad for Trad group of craaaazy-good musicians.
How to Be Wicked is not about defying gravity in Oz; it’s Fresno’s Jaguar Bennett laying out the failings of goodness as a life choice and urging the audience to embrace the dark side (Imagine Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride, The Brain from Animaniacs out to take over the world, and Despicable Me…but nastier.).
The Famous Haydell Sisters imagines a country act trying to make a comeback with songs that lovingly lampoon the music of Nashville. Les Kurkendaal, who has appeared in several Moth non-fiction storytelling events, stops making fun of people in Bakersfield for this year’s Rogue; this time, he mixes Scheherezade with Alzheimer’s as he tells stories to help his mother remember him in A One-Way Ticket to Crazy Town. Barbara Selfridge talks about her feminist mentor and the problems of perspective in Stalking Grace. Blake Jones and the Trike Shop presents The Trike Shop vs, John Tesh and the Soft-Rock Girlfriend, only because Blake’s surgery date was set back a couple of weeks. “The Devil You Know” has puppetry, but not for little children, especially when Allison Daniels does battle with the monster under her bed.
Jayne Day tells you what teachers really think. Houston Robertson tells you what it’s really like to be 78. Jill Vice tells you how waitresses really feel. Victor DesRoches and Boxcar Figaro really sing and play good stuff and talk about love.
Breaking Bange (like the beginning of banjo, not banjee) mixes comedy, clowning, and a broken neck. Andrew Potter is back with The Road to High Street, the best show nobody goes to see (It’s multi-media, it’s entertainment history, it’s the memoir of a recovering juggler, and the emotional content is off the scale). Ryan Adam Wells sings of offensive words like f*** and income tax in Beers About Songs. Marcel Nunis, founder of the Rogue Festival, brings his script of Dancing in the Mist with a message of dementia and memory. Blood Harmony brings the Murray Girls together to sing traditional and bawdy murder ballads. Mia Paschal is sleek, elegant, and able to make meaning at mach speed. The Excursions give us good old rock-and-roll. The 1st Men of Promise are Christian soul brothers mixing classic rock tunes with gospel messages, and they deserve to be heard. Best Picture presents retakes of 87 Oscar-winning movies in an hour with a very small cast of performers.
Malcolm Grissom survives love, A Girl’s Guide to War present’s a 14-year-old’s view of getting through life by following the lessons of Napoleon, If and When/An Awkward Sensation joins puppets, drama, and comedy in 20 tiny pieces, and Shane (Scurvy) Spears melds mind-blowing insanity with rapid-fire delivery…leaving no prisoners.
On Sunday morning (March 1), Mia Cuppa hosts a set of Kid’s Rogue shows. Bring the kiddies and see the Rogue Festival of the future.
Some other shows that weren’t “teased” but are worth your consideration: Ananka Belly Dances (an Oscar tribute?), Howard Petrick’s Bloody Sunday (labor battles of the 20th century), Spencer/Morris Group reprising a decade of their Rogue parodies and originals, Flower Tome Companion (imagine Garrison Keillor in Fresno), Shame the Devil, Pass the Nails (extreme home improvement in a crack jungle), Ashes from Curtain 5 Theatre Group, and even more!
Check www.roguefestival.com and find something that will amaze you in the biggest Fringe Festival west of the Mississippi. Go Rogue!
Check out KRL’s Arts & Entertainment section for more Rogue Preview articles and watch for the reviews to start rolling in this weekend, and maybe even some videos!