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The fifth annual Rogue Performance Festival opens this weekend with a Rwandan comic, reengineered children's songs, and a hilarious one-woman show about Jewish summer camp. The Rogue is a jewel in Fresno's entertainment crown, bringing in 78 different acts this year from all over the world for two weeks of music, art, theatre, and more.
The brainchild of Fresno theatre superstar Marcel Nunis, the Rogue has grown from one stage at the Sanctuary in downtown Fresno to 15 different venues between Clinton and Kern Street. Attendance has grown five-fold in the past four years, and organizers expect ticket sales to top 7,000 this year.
The Rogue is a non-juried performance festival, modeled after "Fringe" festivals the world over (for the scoop on why the Rogue is not an "official" Fringe Festival, check out Rogue's Rogue). The organizers don't vouch for the quality of the acts- anything goes. Part of the fun of a non-juried festival like the Rogue is that you can afford to jump from performance to performance until you find something you like. No show is more than $7, and intermission between performances is capped at 30 minutes (frugal Rogue goers will buy a Rogue Ready Pass for $30, which is good for 5 Mainstage shows and 10 Rogue Café shows). All ticket proceeds go directly to the performers.
The Rogue has a history of showcasing performers before they hit it big. "Man 1, Bank 0" ran at the Rogue in 2004, and is now playing off-Broadway, and last year's "Rap Canterbury Tales" has been featured on NPR and at the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. While you never know what you're going to get with the Rogue, here are some likely highlights of this year's festival.
"Fear of a Brown Planet"
Niles Seguin is a Rwandan-French Canadian whose one-man show offers a sophisticated and funny take on the entertainment industry and race.
"So Kiss Me Already, Herschel Gertz!"
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune gave this show "An A' for Chutzpah" when it played the Minnesota Fringe Festival. A one-woman show about an overweight 15-year-old girl who's sent of to conservative Jewish summer camp, "So Kiss Me Already" is the follow-up to Salloway's smash, "Does this Monologue Make me Look Fat?"
"It's OK to Like Porn!"
Aaron Bonilla is a Fresno actor/student, former Famous People, and part time porn store clerk. He's written a one-man show about his job, and hilarity is sure to ensue.
"Supernova In Hamlet"
Epic Theatre Company
Two Couples. Two Periods In Time. One Cabin in Big Bear. Supernova in Hamlet is a play about two couples on the verge of change. Selected as a Best New Work by the Kennedy Center, Fresno's new Epic Theatre Company presents its Fresno debut at this year's Rogue. Emily and Derek have been together long time. Derek is happy with the status quo. Emily wants more. Lynn and Will are knee deep in an affair. Will can't leave his current situation and Lynn will not be a fling any longer. Both couples are going to learn more than they expected about each other in this short piece about love, sex and astronomy.
"The 24-Hour Shakespeare Experiment, or What Fools These Mortals Be"
Woodward Shakespeare Festival
Three fifteen-minute original plays conceived, written, rehearsed and performed within 24 hours. What will it be about? Will it be funny, or sad, romantic or heroic, brilliant or plain bad? We have no idea. The one thing we know for sure is that they will all be based on or inspired by a Shakespeare play.
"Assemblings II: In the Ancient Modes"
Megill & Company
Remember when Gregorians Chants cracked the top 40? We sure do, and we pray for that day to return soon. "Assemblings II" pairs dance with the music of Gregorian chant, with a dash for partial nudity.
"Songs Your Kids Might Like"
RP and the Moadster
Fresno musicians RP and The Moadster attempt to make songs for kids that don't make adults want to claw their eyes out. A challenge indeed. This performance is rated G, so go ahead and bring the kids.
"OWNED ... life's ironies"
Altered Modalities Contemporary Dance Company
Feeling alone in the crowd? Fresno's Altered Modalities dance company will explore this ironic phenomenon through modern dance.
"Moving Words-Speaking Images: Unforeseen Discoveries"
Holophrastic Kinesics Dance & Video Theatre
"Can you imagine words and images as though they were the same medium or bodies in space, danger, and risk as beauty or even dance as linguistic punning?" Honestly, no. But that's what the Rogue Festival is all about.
This unique "cybergallery" explores blogging as an art form : specifically, the phenomenon of Half-Nekkid Thursday. Every week, bloggers from around the world post a photo of a body part and an accompanying story. Sometimes it's art; sometimes it isn't. With worldwide HNT posts on the big screen and terminals for viewer comments, Half-Nekkid Thursday brings the Rogue to the world and the world to the Rogue.
For show times, venues, and more details, visit www.roguefestival.com.