The festival is virtual this year, but the innovation and creativity keep Zooming along
By Karen Avila, Diana Castro,
Brandon Cortez and Lindsey Swall
The Rogue Festival is turning 20, and while it still can’t (legally) have a drink at Veni’s, it’s almost there! Yes, everything’s different this year, of course, because of You Know What. But never fear. Fresno’s premier fringe festival has adapted digitally. You can still stream your favorite shows, one after another.
Here’s a quick roundup:
Because of the pandemic, the Rogue Festival will be virtual and shown on Zoom. “They can still expect something different and that they wouldn’t normally see in any kind of virtual show,” says Heather Parish, the festival’s executive director. “I like connecting those unusual performances with audiences who might not be able to find them.”
The show usually features artists from around the world, and Covid-19 will not change that. The audience can still expect to see artists from not only California but also New York, Montreal, Australia, and Texas performing live from their living rooms.
Some shows are live. Others are prerecorded.
Turning the Rogue Festival into a virtual experience has its challenges. The festival relies on a loyal cadre of volunteers who turn out year after year. Traditional physical tasks for a venue crew (managing performers and audiences, setting up and breaking down acts, etc.) has given way to the requirements of the digital realm (hosting Zoom rooms, troubleshooting glitches, etc.)
Ticket prices are cheaper this year. No show is more than $10. Some are pay-what-you-will.
You might need to plan ahead more than in a regular Rogue year. Instead of up to six performances of popular shows, each of the official Rogue shows offer just two performances (one a weekend). Several shows are considered Off-Rogue Productions and handle their own ticketing; some of them have more than two performances.
Rogue organizers realize that the different format could impact audience numbers. “We do anticipate it being lower,” Parish says of attendance. There are only about half as many acts as in a regular Rogue year. But she’s bullish about the loyalty of Rogue fans. Plus, people will be able to tune in and watch from anywhere in the world. “We do have a core audience,” she says. “We’re trying to keep them as engaged as possible.” Despite the challenges of the pandemic, she is still excited for the opportunities that this festival will provide for both artists and audiences. “For two weeks, guests get to watch creative performances. The audience can still expect shows back to back and get their creativity fix.”
The authors are Fresno State students taking Donald Munro’s media-writing class.