The Rogue Festival, Fresno’s completely uncensored theater and performing arts festival, returns to the Tower District March 1–10. The 17th annual Rogue Festival will present more than 200 separate performances of theater, music, dance, comedy, spoken word and magic from 48 performing groups in 10 different venues.
The Rogue Festival is one of the oldest and best respected fringe festivals in the western United States and part of a worldwide movement of fringe theater festivals, celebrating the independent artist rather than established arts institutions.
The Rogue is Fresno’s home for edgy, uncensored, avant-garde performances that you won’t see anywhere else. Many of the acts in the Rogue are original works written and performed for the first time by the artists performing them, so Rogue audiences enjoy art they’ll never experience anywhere else.
The most important thing about the Rogue isn’t its size or variety but rather it’s freedom for both performers and audience, says Heather Parish, executive director of the Rogue Festival.
“The Rogue Festival is built on a principle that is sacred to us—that there should be no censor, no curator, no selection committee standing between the artist and the audience,” says Parish. “We don’t choose who can or cannot participate in the Rogue. We don’t select or reject performers.
“There are no restrictions on what performers can say or do. For the audience, this is the one event in the San Joaquin Valley where you can see raw, uncensored, unmediated performance— and only the audience gets to say what’s good or what’s bad.”
The mission of the Rogue Festival is to eliminate all barriers between the independent artist and the audience. The Rogue is a noncurated festival, meaning that Rogue Festival staff do not select the acts that perform at the Rogue.
All applications to perform in the Rogue Festival are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. No one controls what’s in the Rogue, so it is a true First Amendment zone—you can see the greatest show ever, you can see the worst show ever and you will definitely see shows that will challenge your comfort zone.
New to the Rogue this year is the “Artists’ Underground” program, which allows performers to create their own venues in commercial spaces and backyards. Although previous Rogue Festivals accepted all applications on a first-come, first-serve basis, owing to the large number of applications this year a lottery was held to allocate performing slots.
“The Rogue has always been about encouraging artists to be entrepreneurs, to create their own opportunities and control their own box office,” said Parish. “Since we always have more artists than we can accommodate, this year we’re letting anyone who can find a space to perform be a part of Rogue.”
In its 17th year, the Rogue Festival is now one of the oldest festivals of its kind in the United States and has built a nationwide reputation for Fresno as a city that celebrates the arts.
“Fresnans who attend the Rogue don’t always know this, but artists all around the country talk about the Rogue Festival as a ‘must-do’ event, because of the tremendous support that the Fresno community gives Rogue performers,” said Parish.
“Performers love coming to Fresno because of the way they are welcomed by the audience, Rogue volunteers and local performers. Rogue performers immediately feel they are part of our community, and they always want to come back.”
Audiences at the Rogue Festival will have their pick of a wide variety of entertainment, with shows happening simultaneously at a variety of Tower District venues. Rogue performances are presented in rapid rotation—no show is longer than one hour, and intermissions between shows are only a half hour. Most Rogue shows cost $12 or less, so the ideal way to experience the Rogue is to see multiple shows every day of the festival.
The Rogue Festival is a non-juried festival, meaning that no prizes are given and there is no judging of content. The audience decides for itself what it likes and doesn’t like, so the Rogue Festival encourages word-of-mouth and online reviews from audience members.
Another mission of the Rogue Festival is to eliminate barriers between independent artists and their earnings. All ticket sales go directly to the performers. The Rogue Festival, a registered 501(c) (3) organization, supports itself through sales of festival wristbands, individual contributions and sponsorships.
The Rogue Festival draws 3,000 audience members into the Tower District, most of whom combine their Rogueing with dining, drinking and shopping at Tower District businesses, creating a sizable contribution to the local economy.
Rogue Festival Teaser Show
March 1. Doors open at 6 p.m. Show begins at 7 p.m. Tower Theater, 815 E. Olive Ave.
Tickets: $10 at roguefestival.ticketleap.com
Sneak peek at upcoming shows in the 2018 Festival, plus a chance to meet and mingle with Rogue performers.
Rogue Festival Performances
March 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Tower District.
The full program and other information are available at www.fresnoroguefestival.com.
Beatdown Poetry Slam: Rogue Festival vs. InnerEar Poets
March 5. 6:30 p.m. The Revue, 620 E. Olive Ave.
Tickets: $12 at the door
8th annual Battle Royale, featuring Fresno’s finest wordsmiths facing the talented performers from Rogue, in a war of words.
Tickets to Rogue Festival performances can be purchased online (www.fresnoroguefestival.com) in advance or at the door starting 30 minutes before each performance.
Jaguar Bennett, email@example.com or 559-355- 9154. www.fresnoroguefestival.com