Rogue 2018: This millennial says, ‘Keep me engaged, keep me happy’

As the Rogue Festival comes to a close, here are some thoughts from a younger audience member. Could shorter performances be the wave of the future for more than just fringe festivals? Here’s a view from one of my students in the Fresno State journalism class I’m teaching. He originally wrote this piece for a class assignment:

By Nugesse Ghebrendrias


As a millennial, going to a two-hour movie or show just doesn’t appeal to me. I might be engaged to the halfway point, but by the time intermission or the end of the film rolls around, I’m already contemplating my hasty exit. I’m not saying long films or productions are bad. I sat through all of the “Lord of the Rings” films, which, by the way, average at least three hours.

Still, I’m 24. People my age prefer more options in a shorter amount of time. We need to be stimulated, but quickly. We need to be able to experience multiple avenues to see what we like.

Luckily, the Rogue Festival offers all those things, plus beer.


Yes, there is alcohol there, but more importantly a format that resonates better with me and others like me.

All the shows last an hour or less, along with an “intermission” for patrons to get food, another beer and move onto the next show. It’s like Netflix in real life. Kind of. If you don’t like a show, leave and find another.

When I looked over the shows being produced, I circled about five different ones in the program that I wanted to try. As a millennial, that kind of engagement is perfect.

And with tickets only $6-$12, if you end up wanting to leave in the middle of a show, the price isn’t even an issue.

Younger individuals are so reliant on technology that they are wired to process information rapidly. Short videos and commercials are all about keeping people engaged. From the perspective of the artists in the Rogue, keeping the attention of younger audience members for even an hour might be difficult.

This issue affects all aspects of entertainment, including sports. Just last year, Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, stated that games are running too long and that making them shorter was a priority.

The reason? Younger fans were no longer staying engaged into the later stages of the game.

“Obviously people, particularly millennials, have increasingly short attention spans,” Silver said. “So, it’s something as a business we need to pay attention to. … When the last few minutes of the game take an extraordinary amount of time, sometimes it’s incredibly interesting for fans, other times it’s not.”

I think that more cultural events in the future will take on the Rogue’s format of shorter shows and rapid rotation. The fans will get what they want in terms of a quicker payoff, and the performers will keep their audiences engaged.

More Rogue coverage

Other stories from my Fresno State journalism students:

Rogue 2018: Whether on the street or inside a theater, these magicians just want to entertain (By William Ramirez)

Rogue 2018: For this Super Fan, there are never too many shows (By Paige Gibbs)

Rogue 2018: Under new artistic leadership, NOCO dances in a different direction (By Selina Falcon)

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (2)

  • KC Rutiaga

    Actually, I think this applies to more than just millennials. People in general now, with the ability to find any information they seek at the touch of a button, have developed an intolerance to things that require patience. My middle-aged self included.

  • Margie Vogt

    It makes me a little sad that millennials have such a short attention span, and demand immediate engagement. I feel like they could be missing some really great stuff. Sometimes delayed gratification is so much sweeter.


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