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How I became an idiot. Or: Why we won't shut up about the Rogue
You're on stage, holding hands with another man. It's opening night curtain call, only there isn't a curtain, but that doesn't matter because the place is sold out and people are clapping and you take a quick bow and think: “How did this happen?”
It happened like most stuff in Fresno — a friend says: “I've got an idea.” Then he says it again. Then one year and $275 later you've got a play in the Rogue festival.
This one is mine and it's called “Shakespeare's an Idiot.” But it could be any of the 80-plus shows at this year's festival. Specifics don't matter when you're talking Rogue. It's more of a feeling, like anything is possible if only you step foot on stage and try. Just do it.
It could be Rogue mantra. Too bad Nike got it first.
The Rogue gets a lot of attention from us entertainment-media types, because for two weekends each year we get to say “told you so” to the great masses of Fresnans who continue to insist there's nothing to do here. For eight or so days there's no arguing the fact. We have options — theater and music, dance and art — all within a neighborhood walk. A short pedi-cab ride for sure. There's even some chamber of commerce-worthy stats:
The Rogue is the largest performing arts festival this side of the Mississippi.
It draws performers from Chicago, New York, Colorado, Oklahoma, Canada and England.
All ticket sales go directly to the performers — which is a big deal when it comes to these kind of things.
It might seem like overkill, the cool kids swooning over cool-kid stuff, and maybe you don't care.
But then you're missing the point.
The Rogue is what happens when you stop talking (or blogging, or writing commentaries even) and start doing. It's Fresno at its best, authentic and creative and entrepreneurial — if no one shows up you've got no one to blame but yourself, buddy. It's opportunistic — and God if Fresno isn't exploding with opportunity. It's a couple of guys who have an idea about heckling Shakespeare who end up writing a play.
But it's everything else, too.
Like that kid (maybe you) sitting in English class wishing they were home with a Fender Strat (or a Gibson Les Paul, or the cheaper Epiphone version). It's him and his crappy band. It's Reza Assemi who figured, why not build a cultural arts district downtown? No one else is there. It's the Pearl Building and all its inhabitants, who spawned all sorts of crazy-cool stuff, including this site. It's Mindhub and ReelPride and businesses like Cafe Corazon and Charlottes Bakery (personal favorites). It's Fagan's even, which might be a sore subject with some people, but there are bound to be some failures. Not everything works first time out. It's up in the north-end of town too, at Roe, whose owner quit his job as a lawyer and spent his life's saving, literally, building a restaurant from little more than a dream.
So, we're going to talk about the Rogue some more before it's all said and done this Saturday night, before that final curtain call. Because, yes, it is that important.
And that's just how things happen in Fresno.