by Terrance Mc Arthur
“The Rogue is coming! The Rogue is coming! The Rogue…is Here!”
The 12th annual Rogue Performance Festival kicked off Thursday. Instead of showcasing a selection of performers on a makeshift stage, the Rogue acts strutted their stuff on the stage of the Tower Theatre! Old favorites, new discoveries, and old friends in new material all gave a taste of what audiences will see over the next nine days.
Victor DesRoches and Boxcar Figaro are back, laid back and quirky as ever, singing Victor’s songs, covers, and “Nothing.” The Ananka Dance Troupe is back for its 11th Rogue, presenting belly dance with a sense of humor and real bodies. The Valley Burlesque Society is ready to go a little bit farther.
“LOON” from Wonderheads showed remarkable maskmaking and characterization as a man falls in love with the Moon. The Excursions rocked the Tower Theatre with old-timey and modern sounds; their show aims to tock the whole Tower District. Gene Gore combines her forceful personality with a story of the development of social awareness and the fight against AIDS; it could be one of those eye-opening experiences the Rogue often brings to Fresno. A grizzled Randy Rutherford won’t play “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” in his show, but he will sing and play the guitar and talk about Jesus and roller skates and Andy Williams. “Apocalypse Clown” brings vignettes of physical insanity with an uncomfortable edge. “Answers!!! (or Something Like It)” combines an improvisational Q&A format with a puppet sidekick, but not a lovable, child-friendly one. Bremner Duthie comes to Fresno and the Rogue with a bunch of happy songs about death for a wild vaudeville turn.
Katherine Glover didn’t have a new show for this Rogue, but she put together some unrelated stories that should fit the Starline venue for A Girl Walks into a Bar. Melanie Gall (she of the soaring voice) follows up last year’s Edith Piaf tribute with World-War-era songs about knitting (bring your own yarn and needles). Gall also teams with Duthie for Ne Me Quitte Pas, a concert of Piaf and Jacques Brel that never happened (If she wants to work with Duthie, he must be good). Kurt Fitzpatrick leaves speech therapy behind and goes to the surreal Cathedral City, where he is supposed to die, and where he meets…himself. Emily Windler (of Poe & Mathews) gives the audience a clown’s-eye-view of the dating scene in Gary Has a Date. Brian Kuwabara (the other half of Poe & Mathews) improvises a conspiratorial view of A Secret History of the World with Gabriel McKinney. Martin Dockery embarks on a Bike Trip that explores the world-mind connections of LSD. Shana Cordon Dances with Demons as a writer whose characters don’t play by fairy tale rules.
Old Friends, New Stuff
This is only a small percentage of what you can see and hear at Fresno’s Rogue Performance Festival. Whatever you like, you’ll find it there. Whatever you can’t imagine yourself liking, give it a try: there are a lot of pleasant surprises out there.
If you would like to know more about the history of the Rogue Festival check out this 2011 article here in KRL: Rogue Festival Celebrates 10th Year! and check out this article with tips on attending Rogue from 2011: Doing De Rogue: A Guide To The Rogue Festival Through Its Vocabulary. Also in KRL this year we had several Rogue Preview articles by this year’s performers all of which can be found in our A & E section, have another Rogue tips article coming next week & will be reviewing several of the shows at Rogue during the Festival. You can also see promo from several of this year’s performers on our Rogue Event page.