Apr 05, 2020

A night ‘exposed’ to Rogue

It could have been just another average Friday night—shoving popcorn down my throat at the $3 theater in celebration of completing another week of assignments.

Instead, I hopped on a bus to the Tower District and exposed myself to the art of Rogue.

With columnist Sarah A. Peterson and my boyfriend in toe, I attended three very different shows.

After going to see the free art exhibits at Veni Vidi Vici, an expensive restaurant where we couldn’t afford to eat at, by any stretch of the imagination, we flipped through the Rogue’s calendar of events booklet.

Originally, we planned to just see the Tanjora Tribal Belly dancers and the Benjamin Boone Quartet at Severance Art Studio, but we ended up spontaneously hitting the “Chronicles of Death” at Ashtree Studios first.

“Chronicles of Death,” is a play about the grim reaper, which Sarah insisted on dragging us too because of it’s R rating for nudity (which turned out to be just a skinny guy missing a shirt) and her oh-so-peaked curiosity.

All I can say is, I was right for protesting. My boyfriend and I quickly resorted to passing critical notes back and forth about the poor overacting. The consensus was that only the girl who played a dead person killed by falling off a roof and the actor playing Grim D. Reaper, could actually act.

The topic was, after much evaluation, not terrible in itself, because it did meet it’s goal of provoking thought about the randomness of death—that it could be anyone, anywhere, anytime.

But the execution was disastrous. I personally found the jokes that made light of suicide, spousal verbal abuse and gender discrimination were downright offensive.

And the fart jokes? Yeah the audience laughed, but it was completely unoriginal and I’d opt for another Homer Simpson “do’h” moment anytime.

Honestly, the only thing I liked was the totally unrelated art on the walls of the studio.

Needless to say, it did fill its quota as a dark comedy—one I soon forgot about an hour later, when I was enthralled by hypnotic belly dancers at the next show.

How do they do it? Those marvelous abdominal movements and jerking hips—I need to learn how.

At the very least, it was definitely a motivator to get in shape, and at the very best it explains why the hunchback traitor in “300” was so eager to out the Spartans after seeing such exotic dancers.

It’s greatest appeal though, was its ability to entice people into the culture of tribal belly dance; from the diversity of costumes, to the eclectic mix of Middle Eastern and modern music.

Speaking of modern music, one genre that’s frequently overlooked by my generation is jazz—but you’d never guess that by the looks of the full house at the Benjamin Boone Quartet performance I went to.

After two years of going to this event and practically serving as their publicist here at the Collegian, you could say I’ve developed a biased opinion.

I’m not a jazz enthusiast by any means, but they are good—really good. And they go all out for Rogue, coordinating the event schedule with award-winning drummer Steve Mitchell’s annual pilgrimage to Fresno from Philadelphia.

As my boyfriend said on the drive home afterward, the best Rogue events feature someone from outside of Fresno—the farther away the artist, the better.

I’m not sure if I agree entirely with that sentiment. Fresno, for some reason, is a hot spot for the arts. Just look at our own art, music and creative writing programs on campus.

Whether you go to experience a cultural phenomenon like bellydance, have a musical awakening with jazz or attend a really strange play about death that provides a conversational topic among your friends—going to the Rogue Festival is well worth it.

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