The Road to Rogue-ART & Ananka Dance Company

Mar 5, 2011 | Arts & Entertainment, Contributors, Lorie Lewis Ham

by Lorie Lewis Ham

With the Rogue Festival now underway, I found myself curious how a group goes about getting ready for Rogue. Anthony Taylor, who is directing one of the shows for the Artists’ Repertory Theatre Company this year, and Jennifer Meckel with Ananka Dance Company, shared with KRL a bit of the process.

“I got a call from Justin Red [from ART] who asked if I’d be interested in directing a show for ART for the Rogue,” said Anthony. “Found out later that my good friend, Peter Allwine had recommended me. I read the script and really dug the idea of a light comedy.” While Anthony has been involved with local theatre for some time, this is his debut at Rogue.

“Once the show was cast I realized my job was going to be really to help them find the rhythm of the show while staying out of their way and supporting their choices as best possible,” continued Anthony. Shows at Rogue have a time limit; this one, called Best Half Foot Forward, is only 30 minutes long. The cast rehearsed a few days a week.

Best Half Foot Forward rehearsal

“It was really important to me that since the show is about regular guys in a slightly irregular situation that I make sure the blocking and reads come across really natural. I blocked the show over about three beers at Livingstone’s one night after rehearsal. I was nervous that I didn’t have a lot of movement in the show, but I didn’t want to have these four guys walking around the entire time. That’s not real.”

The final week before Rogue rehearsals became more frequent, with them running the show a few times a night to get repetitions under their belt, then they took a break before Rogue began this week. Directing a show for Rogue is a bit different from your typical show partially because is it so much shorter. “We’re making sure that all the story telling is done with the characters with very basic sets and props,” said Anthony. “I’m really lucky to have an amazing cast of four talented actors who are really embracing the opportunity to play something more current and fun.”

What Anthony loves best about this show is the chemistry between the guys—he stated that it feels like they’ve been friends their whole life. He also loves that this show is just for fun and great for anyone to see.

Best Half Foot Forward is actually one of two one act shows that ART is producing at Rogue, both written by Peter Tolan, the creator of Rescue Me and writer of Analyze This. The other show is called Pillowtalk. Both are about guys in odd situations.

Anthony said that Best Half Foot Forward is about four guys who are the best of friends at the end of a week up in a cabin in the woods. Each of the guys has their place in the hierarchy of the pack. Dave is the one who gets picked on, Patrick is the older peacekeeper, and Marty and Pete are the alpha male types. An argument over anatomy occurs followed by a demonstration.

You can catch these two shows together at:

California Arts Academy SEVERANCE -1401 N Wishon
Sunday March 6 3:45pm
Thursday March 10 9:45pm
Friday March 11 10:30pm
Saturday March 12 2:45pm
tickets $9
Learn more about Artists’ Repertory Theatre on their Facebook page.

This is the ninth year that the Ananka Dance Company has performed at Rogue, stated Jennifer. They too are from Fresno and perform under the direction of Ely Buffin. They perform a variety of dance styles all woven together; primarily belly dancing (Turkish cabaret, modern Egyptian, and folk), but also Ballroom, Afro-Cuban, and 60s popular dances, which will be featured in their show this year. Past performances have included Saudi, Moroccan folk, Saidi folk, Bollywood, and 20s & 30s popular dances. “Dancers are encouraged to express their creativity through all types of music; not to be confined to middle-eastern music.”

They first heard about Rogue from one of their former members. Their first Rogue Festival show was called XX. This year’s show is called Belly Dance Down the Amazon. Each year’s theme is developed by Ely who begins planning for the next year as soon as the current one is over. “This year’s theme is our dancers’ interpretation of sites and activities down the Amazon River from Life in the Jungle to a Voodoo Village and ending in the festival known as Carnivalé in Brazil,” said Jennifer.

Through Ely’s research into the Amazon River, she discovered this world wonder is becoming endangered though human activities and wanted to bring this incredible jewel to the public’s attention through their show.

Ely shares her vision for the current year’s show in October and they begin creating the choreography, costumes and backdrops, and spend time researching the subjects they want to portray and bring to life. “January is when things begin to get a bit crazy,” continued Jennifer. “We all continue to iron out the details up to the last minute.”

You can catch Ananka Dance Company’s show at:

Dianna’s – 826 N Fulton St.
Saturday 3/5/11 7:00pm
Sunday 3/6/11 4:00pm
Friday 3/11/11 10:00pm
Saturday 3/12/11 4:00pm
Learn more about them on their website.

Check out our other Rogue article in this issue, Why I Perform At Fringe Festivals:Queenie The Senile Stripper, and watch for reviews of various Rogue shows throughout the Festival. Learn more about the history of Rogue in the February 19 article Rogue Festival Celebrates 10th Year! as well as tips on doing Rogue in our article last week, Doing Da Rogue

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


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