Seattle-to-Fresno Mini-Rogue Festival 2023 Preview
The Seattle-to-Fresno Mini-Rogue Festival is back for its 8th year! The Mini-Rogue, this year held at The LABryinth Art Collective, serves to give a mid-year relief to those of us Rogue-ies (Rogue-ites? Rogue-ians?) who can’t get enough of seeing performing art in the Tower District. This year, the Mini-Rogue brings five acts and two special events to Rogue audiences. Below is your preview of all the wonderful performances you’ll wanna make sure you see this year!
Kicking off the festival is Jasmine Vang’s Hmong Class 101, which received its debut earlier this year as part of the Rogue Festival, in the same venue. I was a huge fan of this excellent one-woman show (link to review: https://www.theatreteachertalk.com/post/rogue-2023-round-up). Vang brings back this updated version of the show, which plays:
Friday, 9/22 at 7pm
Saturday, 9/23 at 4pm
Coming up next, from Aleño Dance Project, comes a dance performance entitled Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Sh*t That Happens. When asked about the origin of the show and the dance company, Alexandra responds, “The title was inspired by some life events that were happening at the time. I was living in the Bay Area for about five years and everything was going great, until it wasn't and I found myself being moved back home to Fresno basically within a few days of everything falling apart. Being back so suddenly, I was having a lot of feelings, you know, and someone said to me ‘Well Alex, everything happens for a reason.’ This is something I've heard all my life when really unpleasant things happen and I remember thinking ‘What the hell reason was this for?’ I was just so angry and that's how the title came to be."
When asked to go into a bit of the history of the Aleño Dance Project, Alexandra was gracious to give a bit of context. “Aleño was founded in 2022, and we debuted that year at the Rogue Festival. I had the most amazing cast of Bay Area dancers and Fresno dancers. After Rogue, I predominantly created work in the Bay Area with the same founding cast members. It became such a wonderful and collaborative environment, which made coming back to old-but-new stomping grounds nerve-wracking. I had been gone for so long that I really wasn't sure the response I would receive coming back. Once I solidified the cast and started working with them, I completely fell in love with all of their artistry and those nerves disappeared. This group is captivating and eager. They have graciously worked with me and my chance-dance, structured-improv way of creating, which can be very chaotic for artists. Working with them has really reinvigorated my want to create work and participate in shows; it has been very refreshing. In a way, it is still the same Alexandra Tiscareno-choreography style but with different humans and different experiences in front of me, bringing new inspiration and meaning. It really makes me excited for what is to come for this group. Aleño has had the privilege of working with guest choreographers in the past but this year, one of our founding Fresno dancers, and close friend of mine Mikayla Davis, is making her Aleño choreographer debut. I've always been a huge fan of Mikayla before we were acquainted and before she started dancing with the company. I've always deeply admired her for her artistic vision and voice. It makes me excited to be collaborating with her in this aspect and ultimately makes me excited for the community to see the Mikayla I know and love. To close, I say this every time I work with Fresno dancers but I feel truly lucky to be in a community with these artists."
When asked what she hopes audiences take away from the performance, Alexandra says, “My hope is they can watch it and see what they feel, what they appreciate, and what they perhaps weren't fond of. It's a work in progress, which is the beauty of fringe-style festivals. We can go out there and do what we are currently exploring, learn from it, and continue growing and refining. I can't speak for Mikayla, but for me, there was a lot of anger and hurt inspiring me. If it reads, cool! If not, that is okay too! What is most important to me is having support for these wonderful dancers who have been working hard these past few weeks to bring this to life. "
This modern dance piece is sure to give commentary on the absurd, the dark, and overall changes in humanity that we are experiencing or, at the very least, observing. Catch this show on:
Friday, 9/22 at 8:30pm
Saturday, 9/23 at 5:30pm
Fringe festival staple and Rogue Festival favorite, Donna Kay Yarbough brings a new-to-us one-woman show, Tittilated. Donna is sure to entertain with her dependably dynamic storytelling and knack for using her experiences to relate to her audience. Be sure to see Tittilated at:
Saturday, 9/23 at 7pm
Sunday, 9/24 at 4pm
Local thespian, producer, and comedian, Andrew Champagne brings TWATTIE’S “showcase of absurdist comedians” to the Mini-Rogue this year. When asked about his sense of humor and what he hopes audiences will get out of the show, Andrew says, “My sense of humor has always been pretty absurd. Stand-up comedy, in its traditional form, has always bored me. I'd watch a comic perform, and when I did laugh, it was usually for the wrong reasons, so I guess my comedy is inspired by the wrong reasons. TWATTIES is a space for comedians to walk the line between performance art and traditional stand-up. Think of it almost as a parody of stand-up itself. As a queer comic, who has performed and written for other comics-- I've observed the grueling nature of the comedy scene. My hope for TWATTIES is to establish a space for the weird and weird at heart. I always tell people it's not an exclusively queer show, but a queer-run show that provides a welcoming space for fellow outcasts.
The lineup of comics is fierce, and Andrew provides a blurb for each of the featured performers. *text in brackets are mine, not Andrew's.
Vince Accardo... Quick story: one night, I [Andrew] bombed pretty severely. This was shortly after I moved back to Fresno. Vince was not only the funniest comic that night, but the only one that approached me and made me feel welcome. As a comic, Vince is insanely quick. His writing is sharp, and the man has charisma for days. There's not a whole lot to dislike about Vince. We're lucky to have him.
Natalia McLovin. A sheer force of nature. Natalia blows me away. Even when she's unprepared and two buzzballs in, the woman is electric, and-- don't tell her I said this-- a rising star [oops, the beans were bound to be spilled]. Every time she goes on stage, she commands the audience but never at the expense of herself. Natalia is always honest, too honest. I'm cherishing the time Fresno has her, because she's going places. But don't tell her. [oops, spilled it again].
Nikki Spliff-- Nikki is Twatties. If Frankenstein created a monster specifically for TWATTIES, Nikki is the beautifully queer monster. Nikki is quick, smart as hell, and funny. They've been hosting the TWATTIES mic every Wednesday, and needless to say, they SERVE... everyone's head on a platter. The insults are top notch.
Speaking of monsters... Tosh Martin. Tosh is a performance artist, and if you're into that cringe-absurdist vibe, Tosh will have a direct link to your funny bone. Every Wednesday, Tosh comes up with a routine that is funny and always unexpected. When people ask me what kind of material I enjoy seeing, and would like to see more of, I always reference Tosh. He's consistently pushing the boundary of what we consider comedy to be... and not to be. Even if the result leaves you scratching your head, It's never boring.
Danielle Nicola. Danielle is very funny, whether on and off the stage. Danielle is a troll by nature. The good kind, that's gorgeous and keeps everyone on their toes, because she's funny like that. Did I mention how funny she is? Danielle is so insanely pretty that he gives the Statue of Liberty a run for its money. One could also compare her to a Summer's Day and the Great Pyramid of Giza because she is single. So get in line, fellas.
And last: Prabhjot Parhar. I always love having Prabhjot open on Wednesdays, because he sets the tone so perfectly for the night. Prabhjot was the perfect choice of co-host, because he emits such a warm and uplifting-intellectual energy. And for someone so new to the scene, it's been wonderful seeing the work he's put into his craft. I'm happy to have him be such a dedicated member of the TWATTIES community.
TWATTIES’s Saturday show is their transition from weekly open mic night to a podcast format, with the performance serving as a live recording for their audiences to enjoy. So, with all that now know, how could you miss it! Make sure you catch the comedy on:
Saturday, 9/23 at 8:30pm
Rounding out the lineup proper is Peter Antoniou, who bring his new developing work, Pretty Psychic to the theater. With a resume including being on America’s Got Talent and headlining in Las Vegas, Antoniou brings his mind-reading and comedy skills to audiences. Playing only one day, be sure to book your ticket for Pretty Psychic, playing on:
Sunday, 9/24 at 4pm and 7pm
But wait, there’s more! Peachy Queen’s burlesque show, In Your Feels plays for a one-night engagement. Peachy has this to say when describing the show’s origin: “I wanted to do a show that brought out people's emotions and sat in space that we usually try to avoid. I had an idea about an emotionally charged show and then one day someone asked if I wanted to present one and I was like, 'Yay thank you universe...bet!'
When asked what Peachy hopes the audience will take away from In Your Feels, she explains, “I want them to go on a whole ride with us. Experience a catharsis, sit in their own feelings and potentially claim humanity that they haven't been given agency to before.”
By blending burlesque, drag, and poetry, make sure you stay for the late night showing of In Your Feels!
You can catch the show on Friday, 9/22 at 10pm
A constantly looked-forward-to part of the package when Minion Productions is in town is the good ‘ole Fringe Factor: Rent Check edition. When I inquired from Grant Evan Knutson, host of the game show, about the origin of the game show and why he thinks audiences keep flocking to the game show, he says, “I think we found our audience early (though it took a few years to build up) and those regulars prop us up. They ensure we always have enough crowd to feel secure in continuing the show, and they help the new audience members get the non-traditional feel of the show. I think that slowly growing our crowd of regulars continues to support us for two reasons:
1) They know the high-energy and positive vibe of the show will stay the same, giving them a fun escape from the slog of the week
2) They know the content of the show will change every time, so they never see the same thing twice.
The format of the game show was formed a lot in the first year, as the shows happened. The necessities of the festival helped shape it: low-budget dollar store props, fast-paced games to fit the limited timeframe, and rules so simple that contestants could jump in with 5 minutes of prep time. The evolution of the games has been based mostly on crowd reaction. The most important thing is that we always keep the original concept, which was simply to get to know the artists better, in a setting that felt like a party both onstage and off."
The game show promises to be fun, raucous, and it helps pay the rent! So after your Saturday menu of performances, stay for the treat of Fringe Factor on Saturday, 9/25 at 10pm.
Tickets are on sale for $12 per show, with In Your Feels at $20. All-Show passes are on sale for $70, which includes the five shows and two special events, the equivalent of seeing two shows for free! Tickets and more information can be found at minion-productions.ticketleap.com. See ya at the theater!