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Rogue before the Rogue
It's Rogue Festival time.
Which means Renee Newlove is wearing so many hats she could go into business, sell them down at the mall. This year her roles include (it's a mouth full): assistant co-producer, performer relations, BYOV coordinator, Starline assistant venue manager and hospitality coordinator. When she has a free moment, she answers questions from the media, too.
While the performing arts festival is still a week off (the 300 performances start running Feb. 27) there's plenty of pre-Rogue fun to be had, including a float in the Tower District Mardi Gras Parade, a pre-party at Zapp's Park and a kick-off celebration at Full Circle Brewing Co.
Newlove helps us get well prepped for the fun.
It looks like a lot of heavy-hitting performers are coming from out of town this year. Tell me about some of those? What makes the Rogue so appealing for out-of-towners?
In the Starline venue we have Barry Smith (from “Jesus in Montana” and “American Squatter” fame) and Ryan Paulson (from “Pentecostal in Wisconsin”) coming back with brand-new shows. Cara Yeates is also coming in, and man is this one-woman show a tour-de-force.
In Dianna's North we have one of our first musicals in the festival to my knowledge, “Spider Baby the Musical.” It's based on the cult classic by Jack Hill. In Dianna's South we have Kurt Fitzpatrick and Gemma Wilcox, both heavy-hitters and multiple award-winners on the Fringe circuits. Katherine Glover is also coming with an amazing story that will take you through history and give you some cultural insight.
At Ashtree we have Kama Ruby (from “The Passing of Corky Brewster”) returning. She will portray a modern day Blanch Dubois. At Spectrum Gallery, we have Lynn Ruth Miller (from “Tales from the Tooth Fairy”) who is a spitfire of a performer on stage. She has wonderful stories about life, love and anything else you can think of. In the Severance dance Studio, Baba Brinkman (from “The Rap Cantebury Tales”) brings a brand-new show to the Rogue Festival for its American debut. It's called “The Rap Guide to Evolution.”
The Rogue Festival is attractive to out-of-towners because of the Rogue Policy, which has 100% of the tickets sales going back to the performers. We find housing for all the out-of-town performers to help out with travel costs. Also, Fresno really is a great spot for a diverse audience. Most of the time performers are trying out material to see how audiences react, and with our amazing community support, we are one of the best festivals in North America.
Ed Stewart says visual arts are being better represented this year. Obviously, the Rogue is a performing arts festival. But art is art. Was including more visual art a deliberate thing?
This year we are trying something new. Ashtree Studio is a cafe venue, but also a gallery. This year, there are five “Meet the Artist” time slots, where audiences can come in and meet the artists whose work is being shown at Ashtree at the time. Tony and Aileen Imperatrice are great advocates for art in Fresno and it was their request that we schedule time slots for this opportunity. I think it's going to catch on.
In general, how is this year's event different from years past?
This year we don't have many Bring Your Own Venues (BYOV's). I'm not too sure why that is. Our application period is toward the end of the year and during holidays and such. Sometimes it's hard to make sure everything gets taken care of. Another interesting change is our film venue moving to Mike Brigg's Reality on Olive and Van Ness avenues. With all new shows coming into the Festival each year it becomes individualized from years in the past.
The members on the Board for the Rogue Festival are always discussing new ideas and events to better the Festival. Some of the ideas that are yet to come are the Youth Rogue Festival and the Downtown Rogue. We are looking for volunteers to help organize and head up those components.
Also, Rogue Central is moving this year. In the past, it has been at Ashtree Studios, but is moving to Starline Grill. Come on by for information about the Festival and to meet some of the performers.
There's also a bunch of stuff happening for Rogue after hours? What's that about?
Late Night Rogue at the Starline is a staple to the Festival. There are great performers coming up this year who shouldn't be missed. Mean Street Elite presents the Overdubs, Feb. 27, and Justin Stie & the Trees, Feb. 28. Both of these shows start at 11:30 p.m. and will be $5. On March 6 we are trying something brand new, The Rogue Night Club, with comedy from Lynn Ruth Miller, Jaguar Bennett, poetry from Black Light Poetry and musical guests The Illegitimus (who are from Oregon and playing a special show just for the Rogue!). The show starts at 11:30 p.m. and will be $5.
The Closing Party is always a good time. We are celebrating another successful year and passing out odd-ball awards. It's really a lot of fun and for one and all. So, Starline is the place to be 10 p.m., March 7. Stop by the Starline Grill for more information.
What's your preferred choice of travel during the Rogue?
I love the Pedi-cabs. I've already spoken with them and they will be out in full force for this year's festival. Other than that, I usually park around Starline and walk to the venues. The nice thing is all the venues are relatively close to one another and it makes walking a nice venture and eco-friendly.
If you could invite one person to the Rogue (who probably wouldn't come otherwise, but would totally say yes if you asked) who would it be?
We are very hopeful that our invitation to Fresno's mayor Ashley Swearingen will be accepted. It would be wonderful to have support from our local politicians.
We have contacted both Rogue Beer and Nissan about promotions, and really haven't heard too much back from them. I think Rogue Beer might have been around before the Festival, but I know the Festival was on the scene before the Nissan Rogue. We are honored to share our name with such cool products.
If you could only see ONE show, what would it be? Don't feel bad about offending anyone, I am the one asking the question.
I am very excited to see Baba Brinkman's show because it's the American debut and his show blew up Europe while he toured.
And, a final question. I just saw a show and I LOVED it (or hated it). I want to tell the world. What can I do about that, without starting my own blog?
Audience reviews are highly welcome. Whether you loved or hated the show go to our Web site (www.roguefestival.com) and find the title of the show you saw on the right hand side of the page. Those are links to individual performer pages and you will be able to post performance and art reviews there. And trust me, performers are reading what you have to write. If you take a look on the Web site now, there are some performances that have been reviewed already.
Check out these pre-festival events
* Rogue in the Tower District Mardi Gras Parade
1 to 3 p.m., Feb. 22
Olive Avenue, in the heart of the Tower District
Says Renee Newlove: “The Rogue will be in the Mardi Gras Parade. It should be a great float and you'll get to see some of the Rogue 2009 performers walking with our float and passing out show fliers.”
* Zapp's Park pre-Rogue Party
7 p.m., Feb. 24
Zapp's Park, 1105 N. Blackstone Ave.
Says Newlove: “We are letting our hair down and kickin' back. No cover. There will be a DJ playing and Kevin and Pete are creating a special drink, ‘The Tattooed Lady.' There will be specials on well drinks and draft beers, and the guys at Zapp's are donating some money to the Festival from the proceeds. It should be a great time!”
* Rogue Hop and Kick Off Party
5 to 8 p.m., Feb. 26
Teaser performances at Ashtree Studio, 1035 N. Fulton St., and Vini Vidi Vici's, 1116 N. Fulton St.
8:30 p.m., Feb. 26
Kick-off party at Full Circle Brewing Co., 620 F St.
Says Newlove: “It's always fun to go to the Kick-off Party because you can see what shows you want to go to, meet the performers and hang out, with some awesome home-brewed beer.”